‘Orange is the New Black’ Leak Started With a Bitcoin Ransom
New information has come to light regarding April’s ‘Orange is the New Black’ leak. Key players have admitted it covered up a $50,000 ransom to prevent the leaks from happening.
Production Studio Blackmailed With Bitcoin Ransom
Larson Studios, the post-production company that worked on this year’s season of “Orange is the New Black”, recently broke their silence and sat down with Variety for an interview.
In the interview, the studio’s owners divulged information that was not previously known — including the fact that the hack involved a bitcoin ransom worth $50,000 USD.
The perpetrators, a hacker group going by the alias “Dark Overlord”, demanded the ransom be paid. In return promised to give back the materials and destroy any copies of the episodes they possessed.
While Larson didn’t immediately decide to pay the hackers, they did agree to cooperate with them to keep communication lines open, and to buy time while they figured out what to ultimately do.
Before they made the decision to secretly make the extortion payments, the Larson’s had asked the group for proof to ensure that they weren’t being lied to.
As soon as the group demonstrated evidence for their claims, Larson first filed a police report and wire transferred the money to Coinbase, where they incrementally began to make the payments to the group. Coinbase did not allow them to pay it all in one lump sum.
Despite receiving the ransom amount, however, the group ultimately reneged and leaked the Netflix show anyway.
Hackers Gained Access to Studio’s Files by Targeting Windows 7
The hack was not the result of a cyber-attack specifically aimed at Larson, Netflix, or the show itself. Instead, the breach happened because the hackers were generally going after machines running older versions of Windows.
It just so happened that the post-production company had a computer running Windows 7 at the time. This, unfortunately, led to a perfect storm of sorts that lead to the hack.
This is per David Dondorf, the studio’s chief engineer and director of digital systems, who told Variety that the hackers were just looking for anyone to victimize — Larson Studios was just unlucky enough to cross paths with them.
“They were basically just trolling around to see if they could find a computer that they could open,” Dondorf explained. “It wasn’t aimed at us.”
This story may sound familiar to some: Windows exploits and people falling victim to Bitcoin ransoms.
Such a story was all over the news last month when the now infamous “WannaCry” ransomware infiltrated hundreds of countries and brought U.K.’s entire healthcare system to a standstill.
Despite any superficial similarities, however, it doesn’t seem like the two events are related. Larson Studios situation seems to be an isolated incident that occurred due to weaknesses in the company’s own cyber security.
What do you think of Larson Studios being blackmailed for bitcoin? Let’s hear your thoughts below.
Images via Larson Studios and Orange is the New Black