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HBO chief reassures staff over hack fears in new email

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HBO is reassuring its employees that their email system was not likely compromised as part of a cyber attack on the company.

In an email from chairman Richard Plepler sent to HBO staff just moments ago, the executive wrote: “As promised, I wanted to update you on our recent cyber incident and where we currently stand. There has been and will continue to be an enormous amount of speculation in the media. It is important to understand that, as is often the case, things you read may very well not be true. Many people have expressed particular concern about our e-mail system. At this time, we do not believe that our e-mail system as a whole has been compromised, but the forensic review is ongoing. We are also in the process of engaging an outside firm to work with our employees to provide credit monitoring and we will be following up with those details. Meantime, continue to do the excellent work which defines this company across all departments and know that the appropriate teams are working round the clock to manage our way through this difficult period.”

Yet just because the “email system as a whole” was not compromised doesn’t mean some emails were not exposed in the hack, which was first reported by EW on Monday morning. A Variety report has noted that thousands of internal documents were uploaded as part of the original breach, pointing out that one particular top executive’s personal data was among the stash.

While THR has reported hackers penetrated HBO’s system at multiple points of entry and the resulting digital payload is “seven times larger” than the devastating 2014 Sony attack. This could indeed be the case if the claimed 1.5 terabytes of HBO content was in fact taken and is also eventually released (the Sony hackers initially claimed to have stolen 100 terabytes of content, but only 200 gigabytes were put online). The FBI reportedly has also joined the HBO investigation.

So far, all the leaked material was seemingly part of an upload Sunday evening onto a site titled “winter leak” that included Game of Thrones spoilers, documents, and some upcoming episodes of shows such as Ballers and Room 104. The original site was taken down and it’s not clear if more pilfered content is coming. The release of hacked Sony documents went on for months. HBO might have the worst behind them at this point… or perhaps the leaks are only just beginning.