Criminals are finding a new way to make things difficult for studios and their upcoming products: hacking an unreleased film and holding it for ransom.
Disney now finds itself in that situation. During a meeting in New York City with ABC employees, #WaltDisney CEO Bob Iger announced that hackers are claiming to have in their possession an upcoming Disney film. The hackers are threatening to release the movie if the studio doesn't pay the ransom.
According to Iger, the hackers want a sizable amount of money to be paid in Bitcoin. If the demands are not met, hackers say they will release the first five minutes of the film, followed by 20-minute segments. The studio is refusing to pay, as it works with the FBI to find a solution.
Disney has kept he film held for ransom a mystery, but reports indicate it is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. However, these are unconfirmed reports, so until we get official information, there's no way of knowing for sure which film is in jeopardy.
Deadline spoke to Hector Monsegur, who is Director of Security Assessments for Rhino Security Labs and also a former hacker, to get a better picture of the situation. Monsegur explained the difficulty the FBI faces when it comes to finding the attackers:
“It’s nearly impossible because you have various hackers from pretty much anywhere. Also, they are aware of techniques to track them down. So you could have an Egyptian hacker who uses Russian software so it looks like it’s Russian but is actually from Egypt.”
This is not an isolated incident, but part of a trend. A few weeks ago, hackers stole and subsequently uploaded ten episodes of Season 5 of #OrangeIsTheNewBlack to The Pirate Bay, after Netflix refused to pay a similar ransom demand.
According to Monsegur, these ransom situations could become more frequent in the future:
"All these companies like Disney, Netflix and Discovery may have very good security teams but you have all these vendors and small production companies which don’t have great security and probably don’t have the budget to focus on their own security so hackers get in pretty easily. Remember back in the day when movies would leak online and they would go to a pirate bay? Now there has been a shift with the advent of ransomware so (these companies) are getting demands to pay for their own IP. Any studio is going to have a problem moving forward protecting their IPs.”
This is a horrible problem. Hundreds of people contribute to create film and TV productions,and it's unsettling to see someone stealing all that work to make a quick profit. Taking into account the illegal release of Orange Is The New Black, Disney faces a serious risk with its film, so hopefully more security measures are implemented by companies to prevent more situations like this one.