HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler sent an internal memo to staff today urging calm as media begin to report out the sketchy details of a hack attack at the premium cabler. The network confirmed Monday that it was hit, with some reports suggesting hackers were able to access even more data than exposed at Sony Pictures Entertainment when it was ambushed in November 2014.
HBO is still not commenting on what content might have been stolen, but the data includes programming and personnel information. Yesterday, links to content material from upcoming episodes of HBO’s flagship Game Of Thrones appeared online before being quickly removed, according to USA Today. Other reports pegged HBO series Ballers and Room 104 as also being impacted.
Plepler’s memo tells staff that “we do not believe that our e-mail system as a whole has been compromised,” though an investigation in ongoing. It is likely too early to know, at this point, what information the hackers have as IT techs and the FBI are still doing its forensic investigation. Emails were among the most sensitive elements exposed during the 2014 Sony hack, which eventually led to the exit of co-chairman Amy Pascal.
Here’s the memo, which also reveals that “as is often the case, things you read may very well not be true” regarding media reporting on the hack. He also says HBO has hired an outside firm to help in credit monitoring for employees:
As promised, I wanted to update you on our recent cyber incident and where we currently stand. There has been and will continue to be an enormous amount of speculation in the media. It is important to understand that, as is often the case, things you read may very well not be true.
Many people have expressed particular concern about our e-mail system. At this time, we do not believe that our e-mail system as a whole has been compromised, but the forensic review is ongoing. We are also in the process of engaging an outside firm to work with our employees to provide credit monitoring and we will be following up with those details.
Meantime, continue to do the excellent work which defines this company across all departments and know that the appropriate teams are working round the clock to manage our way through this difficult period.
The hacker group, which goes by the alias of “little.finger66,” reportedly took one and a half terabytes of data from the cyberattack on July 27. This is not the first time HBO has been the victim of a hack. The first four episodes of Game Of Thrones fifth season leaked shortly before the linear broadcast premiere in 2015. In April, a hacker dubbed “The Dark Overlord” posted the first episode of Season 5 of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black after the streaming service refused to pay a ransom.
ABC was also targeted by hackers when eight episodes of the unscripted Steve Harvey game show Funderdome were released online early.