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NPR Arts & Life

Hacker Leaks 'Orange Is The New Black,' Threatens To Release Other Shows

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

This week, two stories about Hollywood and tech. First we start with a big hack.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU'VE GOT TIME")

REGINA SPEKTOR: (Singing) The animals, the animals trapped, trapped, trapped till the cage is full.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

That's the theme song for "Orange Is The New Black." The fifth season of Netflix's most-watched original show drops next month, but fans may not have to wait until then. A hacker called The Dark Overlord got ahold of most of the upcoming season's episodes and threatened to release them online unless Netflix paid up. Janko Roettgers a, Silicon Valley correspondent for Variety, describes what happened next.

JANKO ROETTGERS: Apparently Netflix said no, or they didn't say anything. We don't know all the details. But long story short, Saturday morning, they released 10 episodes of the next season of "Orange Is The New Black."

MCEVERS: Roettgers also covered the big hack of Sony Pictures back in 2014. He says that made big studios get serious about cybersecurity. But in this most recent case, it wasn't Netflix that got hacked.

SIEGEL: Instead, the victim appears to be Larson Studios. It's one of many third-party vendors hired by studios to do specialized tasks, color correction, subtitles or, in this case, audio finishing. They have access to sensitive data like unreleased TV shows, and they've become the Achilles heel when it comes to Hollywood and cybersecurity. Here's cybersecurity expert Mark Lobel of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

MARK LOBEL: One of the biggest challenges you see with third-party vendors - there are some very large vendors that support the studios and frankly support all companies across industries that have some very strong security controls. But there are also some very small vendors. The whole company is five people, so it's definitely a challenge.

MCEVERS: The impact of releasing a new season of "Orange Is The New Black" might not be that huge for Netflix, though. It relies on subscribers, and it releases its episodes all at once, so it could always just move up the release date.

SIEGEL: The Dark Overlord claims to also have content from other studios, including ABC, Fox and National Geographic. And Janko Roettgers says traditional studios may not be able to weather a big hack as easily.

ROETTGERS: Those guys are on a schedule, so they don't release everything at the same time. And so if hackers right now are able to prerelease a lot of those episodes for a show, it might hit the traditional studios a lot harder.

SIEGEL: The Dark Overlord has tweeted that it's nearly time to play another round.

MCEVERS: Roettgers says it doesn't seem like the hacker or hackers are out to get Hollywood in particular.

ROETTGERS: Look at the name. It's The Dark Overlord. They're trying to have a sinister image here and trying to, like, say, we're violating the law; we don't care.

MCEVERS: He said it's a reminder that it's not just the entertainment industry that is vulnerable to hackers. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.