The first four episodes of the new series have been leaked ahead of the programme’s UK debut tonight
The first four episodes of the fifth season of HBO’s drama Game of Thrones have been leaked online ahead of Monday night’s premiere, as the programme continues to top download lists on pirate websites.
The incident reflects the increasing difficulty of securing data as it passes through the supply chain, something that could apply just as well to customer data or intellectual property, according to security experts.
Pirate versions of the four as-yet-unreleased episodes have appeared on Torrent websites including IPTorrents, The Pirate Bay, RARBG and KickassTorrents, according to reports. The episodes are believed to be taken from review DVDs with their digital watermarks blurred out.
Game of Thrones is based upon a series of novels by George RR Martin, but with the new season it has come to the end of the already-published material and will reportedly take a direction independent of that of the books.
The incident comes after Greg Spence, the producer in charge of post-production for the series, told The Denver Post last week that he was concerned about the possibility of leaks due to the programme’s diffuse production process.
“The cast is looping all over the world, sending files back and forth,” he said at the time. “Artists are working in special-effects houses all over the world. The files are watermarked, and editors have to confirm in writing that they’ve deleted them.”
HBO has not yet commented on the latest incident, which follows the leak in January of a trailer for the fifth series, shortly before its official release.
The programme has seen the highest levels of downloads on pirate sites for the past three years.
While the incident bears a superficial resemblance to the leak of unreleased Sony Pictures films following a hack on the studio last year, security experts said in this case the underlying causes appear to be different.
“I believe this is not a traditional hack where HBO’s network was compromised, but an example of supply chain security in relation to data,” said Ken Westin, senior security analyst at Tripwire, adding that the leaked episodes appear to have been taken from review discs.
The incident reflects the difficulty of protecting data for which there is a strong demand, he said – something that could apply just as well to customer data or intellectual property.
“The more demand there is for a given type of data and the more people involved who have access to it the more likely it is to be compromised by a trusted insider,” he said.
The first episode of the new series is due to be broadcast on Monday at 9 p.m. on Sky Atlantic.
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