Hackers 'hold next Pirates of the Caribbean film to ransom'

Cybercriminals reportedly threaten release film piece by piece unless Disney pays in Bitcoins

Pirates of the Carribean, Dead Men Tell No Tales
(Image credit: Disney)

Hackers have reportedly stolen a copy of Disney's new film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and are demanding a ransom to be paid in Bitcoins.

If their demands are not met, claims Deadline Hollywood, they will release the film online, piece by piece.

Jerry Bruckheimer's Dead Men Tell No Tales, starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, is due for release on 26 May.

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Disney has not officially commented on the report, but chief executive Bob Iger is said to have told a meeting of ABC employees a new release had been hacked.

Deadline Hollywood says the film is the fifth and latest instalment of the Pirates franchise.

It adds that Disney has refused to pay the ransom and is working with the FBI to identify the hackers.

Pamela McClintock on Hollywood Reporter says that while film piracy has long been a scourge,"ransoms appear to be a new twist".

Several Hollywood agencies have been targeted by hackers with extortion plots in recent months, she adds, while last week, rumours started circulating online that a work print of Star Wars: The Last Jedi had been pirated and held for ransom. The story was later dismissed as a hoax.

Nevertheless, McClintock continues, the apparent Disney hack comes weeks after a group calling itself Dark Overlord uploaded ten episodes of the next season of Orange Is the New Black to the Pirate Bay after Netflix refused to pay an undisclosed ransom.

Studios have become a prime target for cybercriminals and have been hit by a string of online attacks, sending shockwaves through companies around the world.

Hemu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor against online crimes, told Deadline Hollywood that while larger studios often have highly sophisticated security, they are only as good as their weakest link and the gates of Hollywood are vulnerable.

Hackers can often exploit third-party service providers, such as smaller distributors and post-production houses, who lack the sophisticated security protocols of the larger studios. Once inside, they often have access to multiple databases.

The answer, says Nigam, is for all parties with access to valuable data to have the same level of security protocols, which should be the "minimum entry requirement to enter Hollywood".

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