Westeros Is Under Attack (From Hackers, Not White Walkers)

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While the war over the Iron Throne ramps up on "Game of Thrones," HBO is busy defending the Seven Kingdoms from online pirates.

While the war over the Iron Throne ramps up on "Game of Thrones," HBO is busy defending the Seven Kingdoms from online pirates. In the latest battle, hackers claim to have breached the U.S. cable channel’s security, stolen, and then published an apparent script from the upcoming fourth episode, which airs Aug. 6 in the U.S., Entertainment Weekly reports.

In all, 1.5 terabytes of HBO data was supposedly stolen, including one upcoming episode each of HBO’s "Ballers" and "Room 104," which were also released online. The hackers say more is to come. HBO confirmed the breach in a statement to Quartz:

HBO recently experienced a cyber incident, which resulted in the compromise of proprietary information. We immediately began investigating the incident and are working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms. Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold.

The spokesperson declined to comment on what was taken, and whether any other "Game of Thrones" data, such as actual episodes, may have been included in the breach. The flagship HBO show is one of the most popular on TV and its latest season has hit its highest viewership numbers yet—including for the numbers of people watching it via piracy.

Muso, a piracy monitoring and data analysis firm, says the season seven opener, which premiered on July 16, was downloaded and streamed illegally 91.8 million times globally in the first three days of its release.

This was Muso’s first year tracking piracy for "Game of Thrones," so it could not compare to prior data. But TorrentFreak—a publication that once tracked illegal downloads of "Game of Thrones," but stopped when streaming became a more popular form of piracy—says the show’s sixth season premiere was illegally downloaded by more than 1 million people in the first 24 hours of its 2016 debut. The publication says "Game of Thrones" is the most torrented show on TV.

It’s unclear why viewers, some of whom claim to be averse to spoilers, would want to read the supposed script before watching the action unfold onscreen.

But leaks of this kind have become fairly common for the exceedingly popular TV show. Episodes of "Game of Thrones" have leaked online before they’ve aired in the past, and users on Reddit and elsewhere have published eerily accurate plot details of prior seasons. Netflix and Disney shows and movies were also targeted by hackers online this year, but neither company appeared too shaken by the ordeal.