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Game of Thrones episode leaks online, but not because of hackers

This is starting to get embarrassing

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The next episode of Game of Thrones seventh season leaked online this morning, but sources tell Polygon’s sister site The Verge that is wasn’t due to the high-profile hack and data theft made public this week.

Earlier this morning a low-quality version of the fourth episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season was posted online and made free to download. The episode’s watermark, as well as several unnamed sources familiar with the incident, confirm that it originated from an HBO distribution partner and not from a group of anonymous hackers.

On Monday the news broke that HBO had been the victim of a sophisticated cyber attack. Hackers were able to circumvent their security systems and make off with more than 1.5 terabytes of material, including full episodes of unaired programs. The FBI is said to be involved in the investigation.

Today’s leak could potentially take some of the wind out of the sails of hackers who might be looking to extort HBO, as some groups have tried to do with Disney and Netflix in the past. But it also shines a spotlight on how fragile HBO’s content delivery system is.

Beware that there are other unreleased Game of Thrones materials related to the hack that are on the loose, including written production material. Search with care for the next few days to avoid spoilers.

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