Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger told Disney employees on Monday that hackers gained access to one of the company's upcoming movies and plan to hold it ransom, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Iger didn't disclose the name of the film, but later reports said the pirated movie was “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales." Iger said the hackers threatened to release the movie early if the studio does not pay a ransom fee. He also said the hackers want the payment delivered in bitcoin.
If they do not receive the payment, the hackers will reveal a five-minute snippet of the film and then the rest in 20-minute blocks until the fee is paid, THR reported.
Disney has refused to pay so far, according to THR.
BBC reported that Disney is working with federal investigators.
The fifth “Pirates” film is due out on May 26.
Last month, a group of hackers similarly released season five of “Orange Is the New Black” after the streaming service Netflix, where the show airs exclusively, did not pay a ransom fee, BBC reported.
As Vanity Fair reported, several movies have been hacked and pirated throughout the years. But none of them have had the global impact of the “Pirates” series.
“Perhaps Disney is confident that people will want to see the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow on the big screen after all; it’s probably also hopeful that a resolute stance against paying hackers will dissuade future thieves from demanding a ransom,” according to Vanity Fair. “Of course, this stance won’t stop hackers forever (hacking: it’s what they do!), but perhaps it will push them to aim for a smaller target — instead of the biggest movie studio in the world.”
BBC News technology reporter Zoe Kleinman said the ransom tactic is “popular among cyber criminals.”2 comments on this story
Just this last weekend, a ransomware attack affected more than 200,000 people worldwide, according to the Deseret News. People’s data were stolen, with the organized criminal group demanding people pay a ransom fee to get their data back.
“The sad fact is that it's easy money for them,” Kleinman wrote for BBC. “People often choose to pay simply because they just want their data back, whether it's a blockbuster movie or those irreplaceable family photos. These days our digital possessions are the new family silver.”