Cybercriminals have reportedly stolen Walt Disney’s upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean film, and are threatening to release it online if their ransom demands are not met.
CEO Bob Iger reportedly broke the news to ABC employees, adding that chunks of the new film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, will be put into the public domain unless the cybercriminals are paid using the digital currency bitcoin.
According to Iger, the extortionists have threatened to firstly release five minutes of the film, and then 20-minute segments unless the ransom is paid.
He added that Disney has refused to adhere to the demands, and is instead working with federal investigators.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth instalment in the film franchise, is set for an official release on May 25th.
The Pirates series has been a significant moneymaker for Disney, and the studio will subsequently be concerned at the potential for this incident to harm takings at the box office.
Disney itself is a lucrative target for cybercriminals due to its substantial presence in cinemas and theatres all over the world, achieved mainly through its core filmmaking studio, as well as Marvel studios and Lucasfilm, with the latter responsible for the historic Star Wars franchise.
According to The Verge, there is no evidence to suggest that hackers have actually taken the film, but previous incidents suggest that Hollywood is indeed emerging as a target for cybercriminals.
Last month saw a cybercriminal claim to release the new series of hit Netflix series ‘Orange is the New Black’ onto the internet, after the company refused to pay an undisclosed ransom.
The individual, using the moniker ‘thedarkoverlord’, also claimed to have stolen shows belonging to other broadcasters including Fox, National Geographic, and ABC.
In a statement, Netflix said it was “aware of the situation”, adding “a production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved”.