HBO Offers $250,000 ‘Bug Bounty’ to Game of Thrones Hackers

A purported leaked email by HBO extortionists has revealed an HBO executive offering a “bug bounty” payment of $250,000 as a reward for revealing weaknesses in its cybersecurity systems.

The hacker(s) behind HBO’s recent data breach has leaked an email that purports to show the popular U.S. premium cable channel offering a “bug bounty” payment of $250,000 to the hackers. While bug bounty payments are rewards handed out to white-hat hackers for identifying cybersecurity flaws, the email was reportedly an effort by HBO to stall for time while the media giant assessed the severity of the breach.

“You have the advantage of having surprised us,” the alleged email from the HBO executive read, as revealed by Forbes. “In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week. As a show of good faith on our side, we are willing to commit to making a bug bounty payment of $250,000 to you as soon as we can establish the necessary account and acquire bitcoin, or we can wire the funds as soon as you give us the account information.”

The original deadline and request made by the hacker sought $6 million in bitcoin, which is apparently the hackers’ six-month salary. If the ransom goes unpaid, the hackers have threatened to leak some 1.5 terabytes of HBO’s corporate information.

Popular Hollywood publication Variety cites a source involved in the investigation in confirming the veracity of the non-confrontational tone of the email. While some way short of the $6 million demanded, the ‘bug bounty’ payment sought to ‘appease the hacker’, according to the report. Furthermore, HBO is trying to avert the fallout of data breaches that have previously struck the likes of Netflix and Sony.

The timing of the hack comes during a particularly sensitive time for HBO. Time Warner, HBO’s parent company, is in the process of waiting for regulatory approval to be acquired by AT&T in an $85.4 billion deal.

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