Walt Disney refuses to pay hackers who claim to be holding movie ransom video


Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales'.

Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said hackers claim to have stolen an unreleased film and are threatening to distribute it online if they aren't paid a ransom. The company is declining to do so.

Iger made the comments on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time) in a town-hall meeting with ABC staff before the network's fall season presentation to advertisers on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) in New York. A Disney spokesman declined to comment on the threat.

Deadline has reported that the movie in question is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, scheduled for release on May 26. They have threatened to release the entire title in five minute snippets.

Johnny Depp stars in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Johnny Depp stars in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

The saga is eerily similar to the recent high-profile leak of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black.

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The alleged extortion attempt is related to a string of cybercrimes that are rattling industries from financial services to health care. Last week cyberattackers infected more than 200,000 computers around the world with so-called ransomware, encrypting their files and demanding payment to release the data. Hospitals in the UK were among the targets of what one government official there called the "biggest criminal cyberattack in history."

The threat received by Disney is similar to one encountered last month by Netflix, in which hackers stole unreleased episodes of the company's hit Orange is the New Black. Netflix refused to pay, and a hacker calling himself (or herself, or themselves) TheDarkOverlord put the stolen material on the Pirate Bay for anyone with a torrent client to download.

Variety and other outlets reported that hackers apparently obtained the show through a breach at a post-production company. That hacker also threatened other film entertainment companies, including Fox, National Geographic and Disney's ABC.

In the most notable cyber attack targeting Hollywood, hackers in 2014 infiltrated Sony Pictures's computer system and released thousands of documents including credit card information, social security numbers and health records of employees. The FBI said North Korea was behind the hack, which caused the movie studio to initially cancel the release of The Interview, about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

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Disney derives half its profit from media networks. Theme parks make up about 21 per cent, with film and consumer products generating the rest.

 - The Washington Post

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