HBO Game of Thrones Hack Highlights Disturbing “Hacking for Damage” Trend

The situation with the HBO hack is becoming more and more ridiculous. Not only have the hackers dumped the script of the upcoming Game of Thrones episode online, but they’ve also made available the phone numbers of several actors.

So, the story started about a week back when a hacker group announced they had managed to break into HBO’s servers and steal quite a few files, among which were also Game of Thrones videos.

In the first week after the hack, the individuals behind the attack leaked the script for the fourth Game of Thrones episode, as well as unaired episodes from other shows – Ballers and Room 104, both HBO productions. Then, the full episode 4 of the Game of Thrones seventh season was dumped online on streaming and torrent sites.

The situation is that much more odd as the company says the incidents don’t appear to be related. The data in the first leak originated from their main computer network, but the second came from some of their affiliated Indian distributors.

An individual calling himself Mr. Smith contacted press and said the group he represents obtained highly confidential documents, IT related data, scrips and so on. More importantly, however, is that they state they’re not after money – they just enjoy hacking for the sake of hacking.


The precedent

HBO isn’t the first target of such a hack. In fact, just a couple of months ago, Netflix was also a victim of hackers, with them leaking the full unaired season of Orange Is the New Black after Netflix refused to pay the ransom. At the very least, that group was straight forward, exposing its financial motivation. It’s almost understandable in this day and age, when ransomware has become the go-to malware, for a hacker group to try to extort money from its targets in exchange for its silence.

To have a hacker group admit they’re doing it just for the fun of it, damaging a business just because they can, ruining fans’ enthusiasm by filling up the Internet with spoilers and trying to even damage the eighth season of the popular series is just odd.

They even went as far as to leak an email supposedly written by some HBO exec, offering them $250,000 in the form of a “bug bounty” rather than a “ransom”, back on July 27th, hoping to get the hackers to not release the data. Given how the data was released, it’s clear they either declined the offer or took the money and still leaked the files.

Script kiddies have been known to flex their muscles to see just how much they can do, if they can get into this server or that server, if they can bypass security and so on and so forth.

For some, it seems that just because it happens in cyberspace it is, for some reason, slightly less real. This happens in pretty much the same sense that cyber bullies believe it’s ok to harass and belittle others online just because they’re not face to face.

The future is rather disturbing and scary if we think that hackers could attack us and companies worldwide just for the fun of it. A financial motivation is slightly easier to understand, but provoking damage just for the sake of it is obviously troubling. If this happened in real life, with someone hurting another person just for the thrill of it, we’d call it psychotic, but just because it’s cyberspace we somehow diminish the scary aspect of this type of behavior.


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