On 30 April, less than 24 hours after leaking ten episodes from a previously-unreleased Netflix series, a hacking group known as "The Dark Overlord" posted an ominous statement to its social media profile. "It's nearly time to play another round," it warned.
As reported, the episodes were from season five of US prison drama 'Orange is the New Black', not set to debut officially on the streaming giant's service until June. The hackers reportedly failed to extort both Netflix and a third-party production company, Larson Studios, before publication.
Unfortunately for other Hollywood studios, the leaks may only be beginning. According to The Dark Overlord's Twitter account, further releases from Fox, ABC, and National Geographic will be next. "We're not playing any games anymore," it said.
According to DataBreaches.net, the hacking team claimed to have accessed "hundreds of GBs-worth" of unreleased and non-public content from Larson Studios, a Los Angeles-based post production company, last year.
It initially demanded 50 Bitcoin, roughly £57,000, to stop the material being leaked online, the report said.
The hackers gave DataBreaches.net previews of some stolen content and it reportedly included 36 other properties such as XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Bill Nye Saves the World, New Girl, Celebrity Apprentice, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia and more (See below for full list).
Larson Studios did not immediately respond to a request for comment from IBTimes UK. Each of the major movie and television companies allegedly impacted in the hack have not yet commented on the suspected breach, however it is believed the FBI is now probing the incident.
"We are aware of the situation," Netflix said in a statement bulk-distributed to media outlets after the news broke. "A production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved."
The identity of "The Dark Overlord" remains a mystery, and it is unclear if it consists of an individual hacker or a team working as a collective. In a set of now-removed statements on PasteBin, the culprit(s) repeatedly slammed Netflix and teased more leaks will soon be on the horizon.
The hackers wrote: "We're not quite done yet, though. We're calling you out: ABC, National Geographic, Fox, IFC, and of course Netflix, still. There's more Netflix on the feasting menu soon (in addition to the other studios, of course), but we'll get to that later. Enjoy the fruits of our labour.
"It didn't have to be this way, Netflix," it continued, adding: "You're going to lose a lot more money in all of this than what our modest offer was. We're quite ashamed to breathe the same air as you.
"We figured a pragmatic business such as yourselves would see and understand the benefits of cooperating with a reasonable and merciful entity like ourselves. And to the others: there's still time to save yourselves. Our offer(s) are still on the table – for now."
Courtesy of DataBreaches.net, here is the full list of the other titles believed to have been stolen:
- XXX Return of Xander Cage (Movie)
- A Midsummers Nightmare (TV movie)
- Above Suspicion (Movie)
- Bill Nye Saves The World (TV series)
- Breakthrough (TV series)
- Brockmire (TV series)
- Bunkd (TV series)
- Celebrity Apprentice (TV series)
- Food Fact or Fiction (TV series)
- Handsome (Movie)
- Hopefuls (TV series)
- Hum (Short film)
- Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia (TV series)
- Jason Alexander Project (TV series)
- Liza Koshy Special (YouTube Red)
- Lucha Underground (TV series)
- Lucky Roll (TV series)
- Making History (TV series)
- Man Seeking Woman (TV series)
- Max and Shred (TV series)
- Mega Park (TV series)
- NCIS Los Angeles (TV series)
- New Girl (TV series)
- Portlandia (TV series)
- Rebel In The Rye (Movie)
- Steve Harveys Funderdome (TV series)
- Story of God, with Morgan Freeman (TV series)
- Superhuman (TV series)
- The Arrangement (TV series)
- The Catch (TV series)
- The Middle (TV series)
- The Stanley Dynamic (TV series)
- The Thundermans (TV series)
- Undeniable with Joe Buck (TV series)
- Win It All – (Movie)
- X Company (TV series)
The title of "The Dark Overlord" was previously linked to a number of hacks and leaks dating back to 2015 – mostly on healthcare facilities in the US. In most operations the pattern was similar to the Netflix incident, often relying on a mixture of extortion and ransom demands.
The Dark Overlord Twitter account did not respond to a request for comment.