The hacker who stole TV show scripts from HBO has leaked an email showing a company executive offering $250,000 as a “bounty payment” to the cyber-thief, according to two news outlets.
Last week, details of a data breach at HBO came to light. 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 hackers demanded money worth six months of their salary, claiming they make between $12 million to $15 million from stealing intellectual property and blackmailing companies.
In the message dated July 27, an executive said the company has been “working hard” since July 23 and asked the hackers to extend their ransom deadline, before making an offer.
“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,” the email read, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Variety said it had confirmed the veracity of the email.
Acquiring $250,000 is not easy and could take some time, which is one reason the HBO exec, who both publications chose not to name, asked for a deadline extension.
But the executive has also chosen their words carefully. Instead of referring to a ransom, they have 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.
HBO has not yet responded to a request for comment when contacted by CNBC.