HBO Offered Hacker $250000 Bounty Payment in Response to Data Breach

Lawrence Kim
August 13, 2017

The executive asked for a one-week delay and said HBO was willing to make a "good faith" payment of US$250,000, calling it a "bug bounty" reward for information technology professionals rather than a ransom.

Variety has opted not to publish the name or email address of the HBO executive from which the message was sent.

The email was worded in a way that would allow HBO to stall for time while it assessed the situation, Variety reported, citing a source close to HBO's investigation. The anonymous hackers were known to have made a ransom demand, but details of how this was handled were not made public.

"It's interesting that they're spinning it as a bug bounty program", said Pablo Garcia, CEO of Aliso Viejo, California-based FFRI North America.

"We also have not been able to put into place the necessary infrastructure to be able to make a large payment in bitcoin, although we are taking steps to do so as you suggested", the HBO exec says in the email. "You have the advantage of having surprised us", the message reads.

"Hackers are not in this game for US$250,000; this probably took them a lot of time and effort", Goel said.

A person familiar with HBO's response to the attack told Reuters that the company sent the email "as a stall tactic" and had never meant to make the $250,000 payment or pay the full $6 million the hackers had demanded to hold off going public with data stolen from HBO.

The hack suffered by HBO has been in the headlines for the last couple of weeks, not least because it led to the leak of episodes and scripts.

HBO has said it was working with forensic experts and law enforcement in response to the attack.

In April, a hacker claimed to have released episodes of Netflix Inc's Orange is the New Black ahead of their official launch date.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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