A certain Queen of Dragons is not happy about the leaks. (Credit: HBO)
Cybersecurity

Game of Thrones leaks: what does it mean for personal security?

For a while now, HBO is under attack. Various hacker groups have stolen sensitive information about actors, plots, and the network itself. Even though the hackers that previously leaked the 4th episode of the show were caught, it seems that this is just the beginning.

It is clear that HBO needs to not put all the (dragon) eggs in one basket.

A classic mistake (Credit: HBO)

Short recap: Previously on Game of Thrones leak

On 31 July, HBO disclosed that hackers stole 1.5 terabytes of data which included a list of personal phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses for the stars of the show, including Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke.

Also included were the technical documents that describe in detail HBO’s internal network, administrative passwords, and scripts for Game of Thrones, as well as 3 unreleased episodes. Part of this information was leaked online right away.

The hackers were asking for ransom in exchange for this stolen information; they released 3.4 GB of data to prove they’re serious about their demands.

Another Game of Thrones episode was leaked before its official release last week, although this was unrelated to the first hack. Four hackers were arrested on 15 of August by Indian police for this offense.

Today, on 16th of August, episode 6 was leaked in Spain and now downloaded all around the web. This might be a publicity stunt since the source is said to be HBO itself. Be careful: spoilers are already popping up on social media.

Euron was a pirate once. That is, before he went on a mission to impress Cersei. (Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO)

Pirates like Euron Greyjoy. What do they want?

HBO case offers a new insight towards the motivation of criminal hackers: money is not the main goal anymore: personal information, classified data, intellectual property, movie scripts, internal communication archives are much more valuable. It could damage the brand or completely take a company out of the business.

Criminals might not just go after your bank or credit card details. It’s easily done, but the real money hides in getting what’s really important: private information (pictures, emails, classified information you would not be willing to share with anyone).

If compromising your bank account details can be fairly easy to fix if done on time, getting private information back is another deal completely. What would it take for you to get your most personal/secret information back? Blackmailing might bring more profit than simply stealing from your bank account.

This works for Game of Thrones on and off screen: brute force wins battles, information wins wars.

Varys approves the message above. (Credit: HBO)

What should you do?

Coincidentally, the words by the noble houses in the Kingdom could double as the main advice against personal data leaks:

  • We Do Not Sow. It is great to know if you are at good at something. Greyjoys are great at sea, not so much on the land. You might be sure that your antivirus is perfect at protecting your computer, but what about other smart home devices: your tablet, camera or smart watch? Make sure all of them are secured: it only takes one unsecured device on a network for a hacker to get it.
  • Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. If you are hacked and are asked for money, stay calm. Panicking and paying the ransom is not solving the problem, it just encourages the hackers to develop more sophisticated ways to hack. Do not fall for a short term solution: you never know if, after paying once, you will not be asked to do it again.
  • Winter Is Coming. It is almost certain that at some point data on your home network will be compromised by malware, ransomware, or some other type of malicious program. Be prepared for this: update your programs, get a backup of your data, set up a secure network and follow our guide.

Tormund Giantsbane loves to battle and (occasionally) to impress a lady  (Credit: Helen Sloan / HBO)

Here at CUJO, we love to battle, too.

Our war is against the hordes of hackers coming from the other side of the firewall. They bring viruses to computers, steal personal data and raise random havoc to peaceful homes.

We provide enterprise level security for all devices. Something like the Night’s Watch, but with cool cloud technology.

Read more about CUJO here and protect your home from uninvited trouble.