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Hackers promise dirt on President Trump as well as music stars if law firm doesn’t pay $42 million for return of stolen files

By | Published on Monday 18 May 2020

Donald Trump

The drama around the hacking of the servers of New York law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks built towards the end of last week, with the hackers doubling their financial demands and threatening to dish dirt they found in the documents they stole about President Donald Trump.

Prior to the hackers bringing Trump into the story, it was documents relating to the law firm’s celebrity clients like The Weeknd, U2, Nicki Minaj, Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart, Lil Nas X, Bruce Springsteen and Drake that risked being leaked onto the internet following the big hack. It’s thought some 756 gigabytes of data was stolen from the Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks servers, including plenty of email correspondence and contracts.

The hackers initially demanded $21 million to return the hacked files. That price then went up to $42 million on the back of the alleged Trump information the hackers say they found. It’s not clear what that might be, as it’s not thought Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks – led by Allen Grubman – has ever worked for Trump, despite the President’s dabblings in the entertainment industry.

The law firm insists that it won’t negotiate with the hackers, noting that the FBI is now treating the hack – thought to have been instigated from Eastern Europe – as an act of international terrorism, and you don’t negotiate with terrorists. There’s also the problem that there’s no assurance that, even if you hand over some money, the files won’t still be leaked.

Given that refusal to negotiate, some or all of the files stolen in the hack could be published online this week. One source told Page Six that that could include confidential information about “U2’s lucrative publishing deals with Universal, worth an estimated $300 million, as well as Springsteen’s deal with Netflix, estimated to be worth $20 million, as well as how much Diddy actually made in that Ciroc vodka deal”.

Although, the same source added that – often with hacks like this – there will be more interest in the comments entertainment industry executives have made about the stars they work with in what they assumed were confidential emails. That was certainly the case when Sony’s servers were hacked in 2014.

In another statement on the hack, the law firm said last week: “Our elections, our government and our personal information are under escalating attacks by foreign cybercriminals. Law firms are not immune from this malicious activity. Despite our substantial investment in state-of-the-art technology security, foreign cyberterrorists have hacked into our network and are demanding $42 million as ransom. We are working directly with federal law enforcement and continue to work around the clock with the world’s leading experts to address this situation”.

It added: “We are grateful to our clients for their overwhelming support and for recognising that nobody is safe from cyberterrorism today. We continue to represent our clients with the utmost professionalism worthy of their elite stature, exercising the quality, integrity and excellence that have made us the number-one entertainment and media law firm in the world”.