HBO’s Facebook page was flooded with comments from hundreds of New Yorkers shocked by what was appearing on their televisions late last night. During a Game of Thrones re-run, hackers managed to break into Comcast’s feed of the premium cable network and insert fifteen seconds of inoffensive content into the middle of the episode.
Viewers were caught off-guard by an uninterrupted quarter-minute of the kid-friendly cartoon Dora the Explorer. Tweets and comments immediately began appearing on HBO’s Twitter feed and Facebook page, as well as the official Game of Thrones social media accounts. “How dare HBO let this come into my house?” wrote one Facebook user, “I am canceling my subscription immediately. This is not what I paid for.”
Comcast confirmed that the unauthorized content originated somewhere in their network, but they have not yet tracked down the entry point or perpetrator. The company issued the following statement on Facebook and via email to affected subscribers a few hours after the interruption:
Valued Comcast Customer,
On the evening of Saturday, November 30th, a third-party maliciously gained access to Comcast’s internal network and aired fifteen seconds of unauthorized programming on HBO. It is our understanding that the content aired lacked the gratuitous nudity and profanity expected by our HBO subscribers. We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to those affected by this interruption of service.
We are working with the authorities to determine how this attack was carried out and how best to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.
The hacker who pulled off the attack has already stepped forward, in a way. An anonymous Twitter account, @comcast_ny_pwn, tweeted two days before the attack: “comcast in new york is ours. #gameofpwns”. The tweet was deleted following Comcast’s statement, but not before a few Twitter users captured screenshots of the tweet.
We reached out to @comcast_ny_pwn via Twitter, and he emailed us a very short statement on the condition of anonymity:
regarding the comcast hack i dont want to go into too much details since that could compromise my identity but i will say it was def much easier than i expected.
He later followed up with an additional note stating that the unauthorized broadcast did not last fifteen seconds, but was actually just under twenty minutes. However, because the first nineteen minutes of the broadcast consisted of nothing but porn clips he pulled from the Internet, no one actually noticed that it was not Game of Thrones until the stream switched over to Dora.
Comcast representatives declined to comment.