Hacker gains access to Downton Abbey series finale script

News by Steve Gold

Will Guccifer's hacking activities cost ITV lost advertising revenue?

Guccifer, a hacker who is seeking to carve out a Kevin Mitnick-style place in the hacker-hall-of-fame stakes, has reportedly hacked into several high profile email accounts, including the BT Internet account of writer - and Peer of the Realm - Baron Julian Fellowes.

By answering BT Internet's `security questions' Guccifer was apparently able to gain access to the script for the series finale of Downton Abbey, the popular ITV Drama series, and has posted snippets on the Internet, much to the horror of ITV executives.

According to veteran security analyst Graham Cluley, Guccifer's victim list also includes comedian Steve Martin, three members of the UK's House of Lords, ex-Nixon aide John Dean, and the director of Romania's intelligence service.

Phil Turtle, the Brighton-based marketing professional and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) practitioner, told SCMagazineUK.com that the hack of the Dowton Abbey series finale could hit ITV where it hurts most - on the advertising revenue front.

"A script has been stolen, and you could say `so what?', but here's what will happen. Some people might think ‘why bother to watch it if I can get the script on the Internet?'" he said.

"Whilst the truth is that most viewers will probably still watch the series finale of Dowton Abbey, the really important thing is that advertisers will think that fewer people will watch," he added.

Turtle went on to say those same advertisers will likely already be on the phone to ITV demanding a discount.

And he says that the people at ITV will have to cave in, meaning they will lose significant advertising revenues as a result of the Guccifer hack.

"The other aspect should be  a wake-up call to IT people  in all businesses. The more complex you make ‘password' requirements, the more people can't remember them and have to write them down. 

"Plus the ‘password reminder' questions are nearly always easy to research personal questions given that everyone's life history is now on Facebook," he said, adding that it is time to stop all this complex unmemorable password nonsense and make them easy to remember but difficult to guess.

Cluley, meanwhile, said that, if you are a public figure, it's not a great idea to use information, which may only be a Wikipedia search away as protection for your account.

Unlike Turtle, however, he questioned whether the `Dowton' hack will cost ITV any money in advertising. All it would have done, he says, is to spoil the plot points for avid fans.

"That's something the tabloids do all the time with soaps," he said, adding that it is an example of how any of us could potentially be a target of a hacker - "whether you are a Lord like Julian Fellowes, a reporter or a regular member of Joe Public," he said.

"Make sure you're using strong, hard-to-crack passwords and that you haven't chosen easy-to-determine answers to your security questions," he added.

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