The July 27 email was sent by John Beyler, an HBO executive who thanked the hackers for "making us aware" of previously unknown security vulnerabilities. The hackers have reportedly demanded $6 million to hold off on the release of the data.
Additionally, the cable network's message to the hacker asked for an extension of the ransom-payment deadline for one week while the $250,000 payment is made and the necessary amount of bitcoins could be gathered. HBO declined to comment on the story. "You have the advantage of having surprised us", the message reads.
Variety, citing sources "close" to HBO, said the network was merely trying to buy time to figure out its next move, and it never had an intention of paying what the email termed as a "bounty".
However, this week hackers released an email from HBO according to which the network has agreed to pay $250,000 as part of a negotiation over data swiped from HBO's servers. "In the spirit of professional cooperation, we are asking you to extend your deadline for one week". Beyler's email, sent several days earlier, might have been an attempt to make the problem go away without too much bad publicity for HBO, said Sanjay Goel, a professor at the University at Albany and chairman of its information technology management department.
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"This episode of the HBO hack is turning out to be a "Game of Thorns" for HBO".
"There is a possibility that HBO's pre-emptive bug bounty programme may have yielded a better security posture for them, avoiding this situation altogether", he added.
The offer apparently failed to satisfy the attackers who have demanded a ransom of millions of dollars and are threatening to release more files from what is claimed to be a massive data breach.
Last week the hacker group leaked one script of "Games of Thrones" and content from other HBO productions.