Was Netflix Ransomware attack a publicity stunt?

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Recent media reports suggest that the latest episodes of the Netflix’s popular show ORANGE were held for ransom by hackers who released some of the video clippings to the web for authenticity. The hacker named “ The Dark Overload” claims to have stolen at least 30 files containing more than 15 episodes of the ‘Orange Season 5’ hit series and threatened to release the series to file sharing services unless paid.

Netflix reacted to the news and said that a small production company which was working for the show was targeted by hackers who succeeded in holding the video files through Ransomware.

NOTE- Ransomware is a malware which encrypts an entire database until a ransom is paid to malware developer or owner.

The spokesperson of Netflix added that the new episodes were scheduled for a web series debut on June 9th of this year. But the recent hack has made the things complicated for the upcoming show.

Here, the company in question is Larson Studios, which does post-production work for a number of shows and films. This includes Designated Survivor and Arrested Development, and NCIS Los Angeles. The studio is known to work for companies like FOX, Discovery Networks, NBC, ABC and IFC along with Showtime.

On Sunday, the hacker with the name ‘The Dark Overlord’ purportedly uploaded the first episode of the show to an illegal file-sharing service provider and said that he will do this on a consistent note if Netflix continued to show a blind eye onto his demands.

The hacker even announced to the world that a team of fellow hackers like him will continue to target Netflix and its associates for similar content which could put a big dent in Netflix’s subscriber growth and the company’s stock price.

Netflix has been counting big on the hit series of ‘Orange is the new Black’ or ‘OITNB’ and hopes to boost its subscriber base by 3.2 million from May to June’17. But if the episodes become freely available to viewers via torrent sites, then this could harm the prospective plans of the web services provider in a terrible way.

As per a Daily Mail post, this issue has been handed over to FBI which concluded that the issue is not related to Ransomware and could be just an extortion threat blown out of proportion by the media.

But what amazes our reporting sources of Cybersecurity Insiders is the fact that the torrent sites which exposed the first episode of OITNB are showing only the content of the first two minutes. After the said time, the file is showing a pop-up showing some errors.

So, was this whole cyber attack episode of Netflix meant for publicity…?

Maybe yes says some industry analysts of the Media and Entertainment industry. The analysts are in a strong belief that those belonging to the industry have the potential to do anything and everything to gain limelight.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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