White hat or white flag?

By Reuters
August 11, 2017

The hackers behind HBO’s recent data breach have leaked an email in which the U.S. cable channel offered them $250,000 as a “bounty payment,” Hollywood trade paper Variety reported on Thursday.

The message from HBO, the Time Warner cable unit twx that broadcasts Game of Thrones, offers the money as part of a program in which “white-hat professionals” are rewarded for identifying cybersecurity flaws, the Variety report said.

The email was worded in a way that would allow HBO to stall for time while it assessed the situation, Variety reported, citing a source close to HBO’s investigation.

HBO also requested the hackers to extend a ransom payment deadline by one week, Variety said.

The Guardian and other publications reported earlier this week that hackers had posted some stolen HBO files online, demanding a bitcoin ransom to prevent additional releases.

HBO did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The hack has come at a sensitive time for HBO, whose parent Time Warner is awaiting regulatory approval to sell itself to AT&T t in an $85.4 billion deal announced in October.

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