After last week’s HBO hack, the leaked emails reveals that HBO offered $250,000 as a "bounty payment" to a hacker who stole TV show scripts from the company. The July 27 email was sent by John Beyler, an HBO executive who thanked the hackers for "making us aware" of previously unknown security vulnerabilities. The executive asked for a 1-week delay and said HBO was willing to make a "good faith" payment of $250,000, calling it a "bug bounty" reward for IT professionals rather than a ransom.
Details of a data breach at HBO came to light last week. Scripts from shows such as "Game of Thrones" were leaked online ahead of Sunday's episode. A hacker or group called "Mr. Smith" claimed responsibility and said they had around 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO. The leaks included scripts from "Game of Thrones" episodes and a month's worth of email from the account of HBO's vice president for film programming. There were also internal documents, including a report of legal claims against the network and job offer letters to top executives.
The hackers demanded money worth six months of their salary, claiming they make $12 million to $15 million from stealing intellectual property and blackmailing companies. Those hackers appear to have been engaged in email correspondence with HBO.
The television industry as well as Hollywood has been caught in the turmoil of hackers. The infamous Sony hack in 2014 was a disaster, which caused chaos throughout the industry.
The HBO employee has been careful about wording. Instead of referring to a ransom, the employee has used the term "bug bounty payment". This phrase refers to a reward paid by a company to good hackers for finding flaws in their system. Many technology companies have bug bounty programs in which they reward good hackers for finding security holes.