Disney was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons this month, with reports circulating that the American media firm had fallen victim to a hack.
The hackers were holding the company to ransom, media outlets including Deadline reported, and were allegedly threatening to release a stolen copy of the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie unless they were paid a bitcoin bounty.
But now Disney says it wasn’t hacked after all.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Disney CEO Bob Iger said: “To our knowledge we were not hacked. We had a threat of a hack of a movie being stolen. We decided to take it seriously, but not react in the manner in which the person who was threatening us had required.”
In other words, someone claimed they had hacked Disney, and demanded a ransom — but Disney refused to pay up.
“We don’t believe that it was real and nothing has happened,” the exec added, calling some of coverage of the issue “inaccurate.”
So what happened?
This whole episode seems to have kicked off with a report from The Hollywood Reporter, that Iger told ABC employees at a town hall in New York that someone was purporting to be a hacker and attempting to extort the company. It wasn’t clear what the movie was, only that: “the hackers demanded that a huge sum be paid in Bitcoin. They said they would release five minutes of the film at first, and then in 20-minute chunks until their financial demands are met.”
Subsequently, Deadline reported that the movie was “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.”
TorrentFreak, a torrent news site, did some digging into the whole thing. It spoke to someone who claimed to be the “hacker,” who claimed the stolen film was actually an incomplete version of upcoming “Star Wars” film “The Last Jedi.” They had also been in contact with major “release groups” that often leak pirated material online, and were trying to sell it to them.
But they also failed to provide any compelling proof they had a hacked movie — whether it’s “Star Wars,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” or anything else.
As a result, the whole thing looks a lot like a hoax, intended to scam cash out of two very different targets simultaneously — Disney, and pirate groups.