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Pirates of the Caribbean film held ransom by, well.. pirates

By Alex Crossan, Tue 16 May 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Disney’s upcoming Johnny Depp film Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has been hijacked by hackers seeking payment from the studio as a ransom. The hackers have demanded an enormous undisclosed amount of money be paid in Bitcoin. Disney apparently refuses to pay, and is working with the FBI, according to Deadline.

Although Disney CEO Bob Iger did not reveal the film that was claimed to be held by hackers, he did reveal to ABC employees during a town hall meeting in New York on Monday that the pilfering of the film definitely occurred. The hackers said they would release the film in parts should their demands go unmet.

Deadline confirmed that it was in fact Jerry Bruckheimer’s fifth in the Pirates franchise, which is scheduled for release May 26.

Disney would not comment, but insiders say that the company refuses to pay a ransom. This follows a similar situation recently in which Netflix had 10 episodes of an upcoming unreleased series leaked by a hacker as a result of Netflix refusing to pay up.

Hector Monsegur works for Rhino Security Labs, and was a former computer hacker-turned-FBI informant. He says that “attribution is probably the hardest thing the FBI is dealing with here.”

According to Monsegur, due to the fact that the FBI has to track attacks backwards, “It’s nearly impossible because you have various hackers from pretty much anywhere. Also, they are aware of techniques to track them down.”

“So you could have an Egyptian hacker who uses Russian software so it looks like it’s Russian but is actually from Egypt,” he says.

Monsegur says that it’s not necessarily the large companies such as Disney and Netflix that have weaknesses, but the smaller vendors and post-production studios which are lacking in security.

“All these companies like Disney, Netflix and Discovery may have very good security teams but you have all these vendors and small production companies which don’t have great security and probably don’t have the budget to focus on their own security so hackers get in pretty easily,” he says.

“Remember back in the day when movies would leak online and they would go to a pirate bay? Now there has been a shift with the advent of ransomware so (these companies) are getting demands to pay for their own IP. Any studio is going to have a problem moving forward protecting their IPs.”

The Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise has pulled in an almost incomprehensible $3.72 billion in worldwide box office since the first installment in 2003. It remains to be seen if this attack will impact the opening weekend numbers next week.

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