The problem conga regarding Home Box Office (#HBO) that started last week has just taken an uncertain turn. Weeks after anonymous hackers broke into the cable network’s servers and made off with media samples that they intended to leak unless paid a ransom, these same perpetrators have released an email detailing that an HBO executive did try to take them up on the offer. While the network is still investigating the separate leak of episode 4 of “#Game of Thrones” season 7 (not that it ruined its viewer ratings), they now have to contend with this apparent hacker exposé. The email was distributed by the digital #pirates to several entertainment news outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter.

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Not ransom, but compensation

The hackers responsible for the recent electronic theft of certain show episodes and scripts from HBO have begun circulating in a screenshot of an email they allegedly received from a network high-up. In it, the executive mentions HBO being willing to offer a monetary amount of $250,000 to the pirates, though rather than a ransom it is listed as a “bug bounty payment.” The network boss also described the transaction as a “token of good faith” on the part of HBO, and that the $250,000 will be made available to the pirates as soon as they can open up an account and convert the cash to bitcoin.

A close scrutiny of the email’s text appears to indicate a conciliatory tone in the HBO executive’s message. Rather than frame the money as a payoff for the hackers it is instead construed as compensation for the hackers discovering unprotected access paths to the network’s server systems.

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It also noted that the executive requested them to have their deadline extended for a week before they release more of the material (like the “Game of Thrones” script) to illegal channels.

No comment

HBO has declined to comment on this latest development, and there is a certainty that the hackers never received any such payment even if the email was authentic, according to The Verge. The leak of the email to media outlets has at least been confirmed to have come from a representative of the hackers known as “Mr. Smith” that first broke the news of their piracy, previously sending proof of their stolen content to THR. Mr. Smith also intimated that the network executive that communicated with them was someone from HBO’s tech division.

The amount of digital data that the HBO hackers made off with when they struck last month was estimated to be about 1.5 terabytes of media material. This included whole episodes of “Ballers” and “Room 104,” along with the script summary for “Game of Thrones” season 7 episode 4, which aired last Sunday, August 6.