While I'm sorely tempted to make a pirate themed pun or a nautical play on words, you guys deserved better than that, so I'll just cut to the chase. Online hackers have stolen a finished version of Disney's new Pirates sequel, and the hackers are demanding a hefty ransom.

According to Variety, the as yet unidentified hacking group is threatening to release the first five minutes of the movie followed by a series of twenty-minute blocks if their demands are not met. The exact amount remains a mystery, but Disney's Bob Iger confirmed that the hackers are demanding an enormous ransom to be paid in Bitcoin.

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The growing rise of major studios being victims of ransomware is putting the whole film industry on high alert. Only last month, a hacking group known as The Dark Overlord hacked a plethora of other networks including Netflix. The Dark Overlord threatened to release the fifth season of Orange is the New Black if Netflix didn't pay up, which they didn't. Episodes of the show did end up on various BitTorrent sites for a while, but most of the illegal versions have now been removed.

Naturally, Disney is refusing to pay the ransom and are working with the FBI to bring the hackers to justice. Speaking exclusively to Deadline, former hacker turned FBI informant Hector Monsegur had this to say.

"Attribution is probably the hardest thing the FBI is dealing with here. It's nearly impossible because you have various hackers from pretty much anywhere. Also, they are aware of techniques to track them down. So you could have an Egyptian hacker who uses Russian software so it looks like it's Russian but is actually from Egypt."

Monsegur also commented on the rise of ransomware and this worrying trend is going to present serious problems for the entertainment industry.

"All these companies like Disney, Netflix and Discovery may have very good security teams but you have all these vendors and small production companies which don't have great security and probably don't have the budget to focus on their own security so hackers get in pretty easily.

Remember back in the day when movies would leak online and they would go to a pirate bay? Now there has been a shift with the advent of ransomware so (these companies) are getting demands to pay for their own IP. Any studio is going to have a problem moving forward protecting their IPs."

It remains unclear how a leaked copy of the movie will effect Pirates box office potential, but both Disney and star Johnny Depp have a lot riding on this sequel being a hit. More on this as it comes in.

Pirates of the Carribean: Salazar's Revenge (or Dead Men Tell No Tales) is released in cinemas on May 26.

Written by
Chris Suffield

Head writer at jellyfielders.tv. My passion for storytelling has been at the heart of all my work.

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