The Walt Disney Company (NASDAQ: DIS) CEO Bob Igor revealed that hackers claimed to have stolen an upcoming movie and threatened to release it to the public unless the studio pays a ransom.
Mr. Iger made the revelation during a town hall meeting with ABC employees New York City on Monday, according to Hollywood Reporter based on information from multiple sources.
The hackers told the Walt Disney Company that they would release the first five minutes of the movie and then in 20-minute segments if it refuses to pay the ransom through bitcoin. Mr. Iger did not disclose the title of the film and amount of the ransom demanded by the hackers.
Walt Disney refuses to pay ransom
The Walt Disney Company does not want to pay the ransom and it is working with federal investigators. Its two big upcoming films this summer are “Cars 3” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”
The studio made the disclosure while a global WannaCry ransomware cyberattack is happening globally. Hackers have been demanding payment via bitcoin from organizations and individual consumers to regain access to their computers locked by the ransomware.
Last week it was rumored that a work print of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was pirated and being held for ransom. However, an online chatter tipped that the rumor was a hoax.
Netflix was a victim of recent hacking
It was also reported in recent weeks that a hacker stole ten episodes of the upcoming season of “Orange is the New Black” from Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX). The online video streaming company refused to pay the ransom demanded by the cyber criminals. As a result, they uploaded and posted the episodes on Pirate Bay six weeks before the official launching of the TV series on June 9.
A user on Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) who goes by the username thedarkoverlord claimed responsibility for the attack on Netflix and indicated its intention to target other media companies.
“Who is next on the list? FOX, IFC, NAT GEO, and ABC. Oh what fun we’re all going to have. We’re not playing any games anymore, tweeted the entity behind the username thedarkoverload.
Sources in the cybersecurity industry said at least a half-dozen extortion attempts were made against Hollywood companies including ICM and WME over the past six months alone.
Sources in the entertainment industry claimed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) advised Hollywood firms to just pay the hackers since their ransom demands were less than $80,000. A spokesperson for the FBI Los Angeles office, Laura Eimiller denied that the agency is advising Hollywood firms to pay in cases of ransomware attacks.
Eimiller said, The FBI does not encourage payment of ransom as it keeps the criminals in business. Of course, the individual victim must weigh their options.”
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