Hackers access 'Game of Thrones' script, other HBO properties

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HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is one of the most eagerly-awaited television programs each week, and hackers apparently just couldn’t wait until next week’s airing to find out what comes next. A security breach at HBO Sunday night resulted in the theft of the script for next week’s episode, along with video for episodes of “Ballers” and “Room 104.”

HBO confirmed the breach on its web site today, “which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information.” According to the network, “We immediately began investigating the incident and are working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms. Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold.”

Hackers were able to access 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO, executives confirmed. Hackers then reportedly sent emails to several media reporters alerting them to the data compromise, and the promise that there would be more leaks coming soon. This is not the first time HBO has had content accessed by hacker and released to the public. In 2015 the first four episodes of "Game of Thrones" season five were hacked and posted online before their scheduled air times.

“The problem before us is unfortunately all too familiar in the world we now find ourselves a part of,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler wrote in an mail to employees that was quickly picked up by media sources. “As has been the case with any challenge we have ever faced, I have absolutely no doubt that we will navigate our way through this successfully.”

Reacting to the HBO incident, Richard Stiennon, chief strategy officer at Blanco Technology Group, told Information Management that the breach illustrates the importance of data governance and what companies need to do to make sure their content is protected.

“This is a great example of why data governance is becoming so important,” Stiennon said. “Ever since the infamous attack on Sony Pictures, there is evidently an appreciation on the part of hackers for stealing high value content such as movies (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) and TV shows (“Orange is the New Black”). Final production videos are a class of information and the theft of such information poses extraordinary losses, if stolen.”

“Content producers and all the parties involved in shooting, editing and post-production processing and distribution should be on high alert,” Stiennon said. “They should immediately review their data governance policies and discover the weak links in protecting their content and shore up their defenses. An information governance policy should take into account where critical content resides at all times.”

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