Hacker claims to have spoiler on last Harry Potter book
June 22, 2007
Experts investigate 'Harry Potter hack'
Mark Loveless, a former hacker and now a security architect at Vernier Networks, told SCMagazine.com that the report is almost certainly a hoax.
"I think it’s completely a hoax. I would rarely trust some odd claim like that from someone on Full Disclosure," he said. "If the person was smart, and they actually got that, they would’ve published a few paragraphs or a chapter."
John Thielens, vice president of technology at Tumbleweed Communications, told SCMagazine.com that Scholastic's "no comment" means fans of the series aren’t likely to find out soon whether the hack was authentic.
"You just can’t know. It’s sort of an unauthenticatable premise. It reminds me of what other media producers have done when they will record two or three possible endings and one of them airs," he said.
"So did it really happen? Personally I don’t want to know because I want to read the book."
June 21, 2007
A computer hacker has posted what he or she claims are key plot details of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The hacker, who goes by the name Gabriel, claims to have broken into a computer at London-based Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, which holds British rights to the last book in J.K. Rowling's series about the boy wizard.
Rowling has announced two major characters will die in the seventh and final book in the series, prompting intense speculation by fans.
But the details have been a closely guarded secret and Rowling publishers around the world have tried to keep the plot secure from spoilers.
A Bloomsbury spokesman declined comment on the hacker, but Kyle Good, a spokesman for U.S. distributor Scholastic Corp., warned readers to be skeptical about anything they read about the Potter book online.
Hacker's posted 'Harry Potter' ending a hoax?
The mystery surrounding the end to fictional British boy wizard Harry Potter's saga deepened on Wednesday with a computer hacker posting what he said were key plot details and a publisher warning that the details could be fake.
The hacker, who goes by the name "Gabriel," claims to have taken a digital copy of author J.K. Rowling's seventh and final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by breaking into a computer at London-based Bloomsbury Publishing.
For months now, leading up to the book's July 21 release, legions of Harry Potter fans have debated whether Rowling killed Harry or one of his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, in the final book.
Gabriel has posted information at Web site Insecure.org that, if true, would answer that question.
"We make this spoiler to make reading of the upcoming book useless and boring," Gabriel said in the posting.
Harry Potter publishers have taken great pains to keep the conclusion a secret and preserve the multibillion-dollar entertainment enterprise surrounding the boy wizard.
A Bloomsbury spokesman declined comment on the hacker's claims.
Hacker Posts Possible Harry Potter Spoiler, Illustrating Corporate Vulnerabilities
The hacker made the claim and posted some plot details Tuesday to a security mailing list called Full Disclosure, which is re-posted on insecure.org, a website run by a white hat hacker known as Fyodor.
However, no portions of the novel were posted, casting doubt on the veracity of the claim.
Kyle Good, a spokeswoman for the book's U.S. publisher Scholastic, said she could not verify the plot details, saying there is a lot of material on the internet claiming to be from the book.
"Anyone can post anything on the internet and you can't always believe what you read," Good said. "The only way to know for sure is to read the book on July 21."
However, the claimed method of attack – known as spear phishing – is completely believable, according to Rick Wesson and Adam Waters, the top officers at the computer security firm Support Intelligence.
"This is being used against the State Department often," Wesson said. "This is how you steal any kind of intellectual property."
"We have so lost fundamental trust [in the security of networks] we can't tell if the story is true or not," Waters added. "Say it was a corporation's financial numbers for next month -- you could move a market with that information."
Even if the hack happened and the plot details are proven, the revelations are unlikely to affect the sales of the book, given the series' intensely loyal fan base.
Harry Potter Spoiler Spreads
Even the site that hosts Gabriel’s message served up a warning as it was “struggling to keep up” with all the traffic. “You might prefer to pre-order the book and try to be patient until July 21 instead. But if you really want the spoilers, here they are!”
Text of Posting (Don't look if you don't want to know)
Harry Potter fans react to details over reported plot leak
Most fans point to the wording of the letter, pointing out grammar, and other sentence errors as proof that the entire thing is a hoax. While many on the other side of the argument say that is no reason to doubt the letter because the author might simply fail to understand English properly.
Several fans of the Harry Potter series learned about the post online, and almost as one, called it another hoax. Several reasons were given as to why, most simply point to the “facts” given in the post and can easily explain them away. Even the method of how the information was obtained is suspect according to one fan.
“I believe it is completely false personally. I do not see why, with such a desire to keep the plots secret, that they would store a copy of the book onto an internet ready computer. It would be possible if it was on an internet-running computer, but not very plausible with the security involved. I doubt the publishers would take that foolish of a risk,” said Cory known to some as NotTheHBP on the Mugglenet chat channel.
Another user pointed out that the statements lacked no real content. “They just make irrelevant statements. Real spoilers would contain more information [than what was listed in the letter]. If they wanted to give proof, they should have posted excerpts and the chapter titles,” said Keely another Mugglenet member and Harry Potter fan. Cory mirrored those thoughts, “What he said is not very substantial, and as they didn’t provide quotes or passages, it being a hoax just becomes [clearer] in my mind.”