A driver of an advertisement vehicle rubs eyes as he stops at a traffic signal in a Tokyo street, Tuesday, July 11, 2006. The advertisement vehicle promoting Walt Disney's sequel 'Pirates of Carribean' "Dead Man's Chest.' The photo on the side of the vehicle shows U.S. actor Johnny Depp who plays captain Jack Sparrow in the film. The film will be releasede on July 22. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)

Dead Men Tell No Tales, But Hackers Will if Disney Doesn’t Pay Up

Well this be a kick in the knickers. It seems some scurvy rapscallions have pilfered the upcoming Disney blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and be holdin’ her for ransom.

Okay, as tempting as it is to write the rest of the piece in pirate speak, it’s taking far too long to translate (find your English-to-Pirate online translator here). So suffice it to say that Disney is currently being blackmailed by hackers who are holding the fifth installment of the hit movie franchise for an unspecified (but reportedly enormous) amount of loot…er, money.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has not said specifically, but all internal leaks suggest that the company leadership is resolutely opposed to paying up. If that is the case, the hackers have threatened to release bits of the film incrementally.

This isn’t a new strategy for hackers:

This follows the same issue Netflix faced when a ransom hacker spilled out 10 episodes of the next season of Orange Is The New Black when Netflix also refused to ante up.


Hector Monsegur, Director of Security Assessments for Rhino Security Labs and a regular expert on the Science Channel series Outlaw Tech, was a former computer hacker who was arrested and then became an FBI informant. He told Deadline that “attribution is probably the hardest thing the FBI is dealing with here.”


Because the FBI has to track attacks backwards, “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.”

It remains to be seen how effective that strategy will be. After all, people planning on going to see the epic movie on the big screen are likely not going to be interested in watching segments of the film on their iPhone from some hacker site. And the diehard fans that will rush to catch stolen clips online are also the ones who will flood the theaters multiple times to see the full film.

Still, this franchise is Disney’s cash cow, having raked in almost $4 billion since it debuted in 2003. Any dent in that kind of revenue is a significant loss of booty.

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Peter Heck

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