UPDATED with comments from former hacker: Disney’s upcoming Johnny Depp film Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has been pilfered by ransom hackers seeking payment from the studio. The hackers have demanded an enormous amount of money be paid in Bitcoin. Disney is currently working with the FBI and will not pay.
Although Disney CEO Bob Iger did not reveal which movie the ransom hackers claim to have, he did reveal to ABC employees during a town hall meeting in New York on Monday that the incident had occurred, according to a report. The hackers said they would release bits of the film — in increments — if their demands weren’t met. Deadline learned that it was, indeed, Jerry Bruckheimer’s fifth in the Pirates franchise, which is scheduled for release May 26.
Disney would not comment, but insiders said that the company refuse to pay. This follows the same issue Netflix faced when a ransom hacker spilled out 10 episodes of the next season of Orange Is The New Black when Netflix also refused to ante up.
Hector Monsegur, Director of Security Assessments for Rhino Security Labs and a regular expert on the Science Channel series Outlaw Tech, was a former computer hacker who was arrested and then became an FBI informant. He told Deadline that “attribution is probably the hardest thing the FBI is dealing with here.”
Because the FBI has to track attacks backwards, “It’s nearly impossible because you have various hackers from pretty much anywhere. Also, they are aware of techniques to track them down. So you could have an Egyptian hacker who uses Russian software so it looks like it’s Russian but is actually from Egypt.”
“All these companies like Disney, Netflix and Discovery may have very good security teams but you have all these vendors and small production companies which don’t have great security and probably don’t have the budget to focus on their own security so hackers get in pretty easily,” Monsegur said. “Remember back in the day when movies would leak online and they would go to a pirate bay? Now there has been a shift with the advent of ransomware so (these companies) are getting demands to pay for their own IP. Any studio is going to have a problem moving forward protecting their IPs.”
The Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise has pulled in a whopping $3.72 billion in worldwide box office since first launching in 2003. It’s not clear how releasing the movie would impact the new film’s fortunes.