Game of Thrones Sets New Ratings Record—Hacks be Damned – Vanity Fair

Hacks? What hacks? On Sunday night, HBO set a new ratings record with the fourth episode of Game of Thrones’s seventh season. “Spoils of War” drew 10.2 million viewers—breaking the record set just a few weeks ago by the same show’s season premiere. The triumph comes amid a chaotic time for the premium cabler, which sustained a hack last week—and despite the fact that Sunday’s episode had already been posted online prior to air, thanks to an unrelated leak.

Game of Thrones is just one of the series that have been compromised; Ballers and Room 104 both saw episodes leak at the same time that a Thrones script hit the Internet. Since then, the hackers have also released executive documents and scripts—as well as actors’ phone numbers and email addresses—as they demand a multi-million-dollar ransom from HBO. According to The Guardian, the hacker—who called themselves “Mr. Smith”—said in a five-minute video letter that they would only deal directly with HBO C.E.O. Richard Plepler. HBO has three days to pay up, “Smith” said, or else whole TV shows and more emails will drop. According to The Guardian, 3.4 GB of data were released alongside the email.

HBO gave Vanity Fair the following statement on Tuesday: “HBO believed that further leaks might emerge from this cyber incident when we confirmed it last week. As we said, the forensic review is ongoing. While it has been reported that a number of emails have been made public, the review to date has not given us a reason to believe that our e-mail system as a whole has been compromised. We continue to work around the clock with outside cybersecurity firms and law enforcement to resolve the incident. Meanwhile, our dedicated employees continue to focus on delivering the high quality of entertainment and service for which we are known.”

Just a week ago, HBO confirmed that it had been hacked—after the hacker contacted entertainment reporters directly, claiming to have stolen 1.5 TB of data:

Hi to all mankind. The greatest leak of cyber space era is happening.
What’s its name? Oh I forget to tell. Its HBO and Game of
Thrones……!!!!!! You are lucky to be the first pioneers to witness and
download the leak. Enjoy it & spread the words. Whoever spreads well,
we will have an interview with him. . . HBO is falling.

At the time, HBO issued the following statement: “HBO recently experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information. 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.”

This post has been updated.

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