One point five terabytes.
That’s the amount of data hackers claim to have stolen from HBO. It’s a cache that, at a minimum, includes unreleased episodes of various shows, at least one Game of Thrones script, and the personal information of a senior HBO executive. We know this because the hackers posted a sampling of the goods online, although the website listing download links quickly went offline.
But what else did they manage to get their hands on? And, anyway, just how much is 1.5 terabytes really?
An unsolicited July 29 email sent to Mashable, claiming to be from the attacker, only sort of helps to put things in perspective.
If the number is accurate, the HBO hack is around 7.5 times larger than the Sony one.
“In a complicate operation, we successfully penetrated in to a huge company,” explained someone with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. “[We] have access to their Internal Network, Emails, technical platforms, and database and got precious stuff that blaze your eyes.”
A screenshot of the hacker’s website, Winter-Leak.com, provides some additional detail.
“This is the greatest leak of cyber space era (1.5 TB Total),” it boasts alongside various download links. And while this doesn’t look like the greatest leak of the “cyber space” era, 1.5 TB worth of data is certainly no joke (assuming the hackers aren’t totally bullshitting that number).
Let’s break it down.
For starters, the Sony hack — you know the one — resulted in the theft of roughly 200 gigabytes of data. There are a thousand gigabytes in a terabyte, which means the size alone of the HBO hack is around 7.5 times larger than the Sony one. That’s, well, a lot.
Still, even with that context, it’s hard to fathom just how much data we’re talking about. So let’s back it way up. For comparison, a standard 3.5-inch floppy disk from back in the day typically had a 1.44 megabyte disk drive. With approximately 1,000 MB in a GB, you’d need around 694,444 floppy disks to hold all the boosted HBO data.
That not doing it for you? Let’s try something else. Pretend with me that one megabyte equals a square mile (this is fun, right?). If that was the case, the alleged amount of data stolen would equal 1,500,000 square miles. The contiguous United States comes in around 3,120,000 square miles.
Or, how about this: Keeping in mind that a 4-minute (compressed) song downloaded off iTunes is typically around 4 MB, the HBO hackers got their hands on the equivalent of about 375,000 hot jams.
OK, last one: The entire season 6 of Game of Thrones is available for download right now on a popular torrent site. The file size? Three-point-three gigs — which means the hackers claim to have scored the equivalent of 303 pirated seasons of Game of Thrones.
It should go without saying that emails, which email@example.com claims to also have stolen, are considerably smaller in size than video files. As such, the number of HBO internal emails in the hacker’s possession could be quite large.
We reached out to HBO for comment on how big of a mess this entire situation is, but (surprise) didn’t get much back. “Due to an ongoing investigation we cannot speak to any specifics,” wrote the company spokesperson, “including confirming or denying any material.”
And sure, HBO’s not going to say much. But, anyway you look at it, they’re in a load of trouble — if the hackers are telling the truth about what they stole, approximately 1.5 terabytes’ worth. Which means this story isn’t going anywhere any time soon.