What should you do when hackers hold your website or content hostage? You might think about paying whatever ransom they are asking for, or else pay more in the long run.
Those might be the thoughts of Netflix, now, after the premiere episode of Orange is the New Black, not scheduled to release until June 6th, has been leaked to The Pirate Bay, MEGA, and GitHub (the page has subsequently been taken down on both MEGA and GitHub), as reported by TorrentFreak.
Netflix may not have known about the initial leak, but someone did. Hacker group TheDarkOverlord (TDO) was able, somehow, to hack into the hard drives at a production facility called Larson Studios and demanded a ransom of 50 bitcoins by December 31, 2016. If the deadline was not met, TDO would demand 10 bitcoins per 24 hours at their discretion as late payment fees.
Larson Studios (whether or not Netflix knew of the hack) failed to comply with TDO’s demand to be compensated, which came in the form of a legal-looking document sent to the studio. As a result, TDO released the first episode of the Season 5 and threatens to release more of the season if their demands, which are still on the table, are not met.
In their latest message following the release, TDO claims “we may be vicious internet hooligans, [but] we’re not unreasonable creatures.” The group says if the ransom is not paid after the premiere episode is leaked, “expect a full release to follow suit.”
HBO has faced a barrage of hacking incidents affecting their flagship series Game of Thrones, and no doubt has lost millions of dollars in potential subscribers. Whether or not HBO was offered to pay ransom for any of the episodes or seasons is uncertain, but what is certain is there is no guarantee, even if a ransom was paid, that the hacked episodes would have been held from illegal distribution via torrent sites.
The same holds true for Netflix and any other “hostage” situation; paying the ransom doesn’t prevent the hackers from demanding additional ransoms. Orange is the New Black is slated through Season 7.