×

No, the HBO Hack Wasn’t Seven Times Bigger Than the Sony Hack

Ever since news broke that hackers were able to break into HBO’s computer networks, there have been plenty of comparisons to the Sony Pictures hack of 2014. Some reports have seized on the amount of data stolen to claim that the HBO hack was seven times bigger, or possibly worse, than the Sony hack. That comparison turns out to be meaningless.

First, a quick recap: On Monday, news broke that hackers compromised HBO’s networks, and leaked a handful of unreleased episodes from shows like “Insecure,” “Barry,” and “Ballers.” The hackers also leaked scripts for unaired “Game of Thrones” episodes, as well as the personal information of a senior HBO executive and an assortment of other files.

Altogether, those leaks amounted to around 300 gigabyte of data. The hackers claimed that they stole a total of 1.5 terabyte of data from HBO, and have since threatened to release additional material as early as this Sunday.

That claim, though unproven, has led to comparisons with the Sony Pictures hack of 2014, when 200 GB of emails and other internal documents were released. Those releases included tens of thousands of internal emails and social security numbers for thousands of employees. The Sony leaks ultimately led to the ouster of Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, and a multi-million-dollar settlement with the studio’s employees.

Compared to that, the material leaked by the HBO hackers thus far seems relatively benign. The website used by the hackers to release the material has been inaccessible for days, making it challenging to analyze all of the leaked data. However, one Reddit user who claimed to have downloaded at least part of it characterized it as “trash from HBO servers,” with one shared archive file allegedly containing Windows backups and tutorials for popular database software.

The user also shared what he claimed to be a screenshot of the archive file:

Variety separately learned that some of the leaked data contained IT help desk requests, dating back as far as 2012 — data that’s likely of little consequence to the company today.

An HBO spokesperson declined to comment on the authenticity of the screenshot, or any other data allegedly obtained by the hackers.

That’s not to say that the hackers didn’t get their hands on any additional sensitive information. For all we know, they may release much more explosive material this coming Sunday. It’s also worth keeping in mind that an HBO security contractor revealed in a filing Tuesday that the hackers got their hands on “thousands of internal documents.”

But for now, comparisons to the Sony hack seem to be unfounded — and simply looking at the sheer amount of data that hackers claim to have stolen is definitely the worst possible way to make any judgement about the severity of the hack.

More Digital

  • MODEL RELEASED Hand holding iPhone with

    Netflix Q4 Preview: Price Hike Could Signal Strong Year-End Quarter

    Netflix is feeling its oats with a price hike across all streaming plans: Coming just two days before the it reports fourth-quarter 2018 results, the timing of the fee increases may indicate that Netflix will report a big beat on Q4 expectations. The company is scheduled to report earnings on Thursday, Jan. 17, after market [...]

  • IMDb UnMade - Rainn Wilson, Nick

    Amazon's IMDb Launches Original Series 'UnMade' About Comedians' Rejected Hollywood Pitches

    IMDb, the Amazon-owned entertainment database, has premiered its latest original show: “UnMade,” featuring Rainn Wilson, Nick Cannon, Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts and other comedians discussing early pet projects that were never produced, until now — sort of. In each episode, one of the guest comedians recounts a project they created and pitched back when they were [...]

  • apple music

    Verizon Bundles Apple Music With Top-Tier Unlimited Wireless Plans for No Extra Charge

    Verizon has expanded its ties to Apple — offering wireless subscribers on its two most expensive unlimited plans access to the Apple Music for no extra charge. Starting Jan. 17, Apple Music will be included in Verizon’s Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans, the telco announced Tuesday. For Apple, the bundling agreement promises to augment [...]

  • Infowars Alex Jones

    Roku Removes Infowars Channel Following Backlash

    Roku has taken the Infowars channel off its platform after the streaming device faced criticism for carrying the controversial program hosted by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. “After the InfoWars channel became available, we heard from concerned parties and have determined that the channel should be removed from our platform,” stated the company’s tweet on [...]

  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON in Glass. M.

    ‘Glass’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Glass.” Ads placed for the superhero thriller had an estimated media value of $9.89 million through Sunday for 1,183 national [...]

  • Snap Inc

    Snap CFO Tim Stone to Leave Company

    Snapchat corporate parent Snap Inc. is facing another major executive departure: The company’s chief financial officer Tim Stone is on his way out, Snap revealed in a regulatory filing Tuesday afternoon. Stone will stay with the company to find a new candidate for his position for the time being, according to the filing. His last [...]

  • birdbox Sandra Bullock

    Will Netflix's Latest Price Hike Spur a Customer Backlash?

    Netflix is rolling out its biggest price increase to date — including hiking the standard HD plan from $10.99 to $12.99 per month — for all subscribers in the U.S. and parts of Latin America. The obvious risk: Some customers will see the higher prices as a reason to bail on Netflix, while there’s also [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content