Radiohead refuses to pay $150,000 ransom for ‘hacked’ recordings, releases them instead

Radiohead refuses to pay $150,000 ransom for 'hacked' recordings, releases them instead

How do you stop a hacker from making a fortune out of the files they have stolen from you? Files that thousands of people are probably desperate to own?

Simple. You make the files readily available to anyone on the internet to access. After all, there’s no way the hacker will be able to demand a sizeable ransom from you now.

That’s exactly how Radiohead has scuppered the plans of attempted extortionist who stole previously unreleased recordings and alternative takes made during the making of the band’s classic album OK Computer in 1997.

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Lead singer Thom Yorke announced the limited release of the recordings on Bandcamp would be in support of international conservation movement Extinction Rebellion.

we’ve been hacked
my archived mini discs from 1995-1998(?)
it’s not v interesting
there’s a lot of it

if you want it, you can buy the whole lot here
18 minidisks for £18
the proceeds will go to Extinction Rebellion

as it’s out there
it may as well be out there
until we all get bored
and move on

Two of the Minidiscs containing the Radiohead recordings.

Lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood confirmed what had happened on Twitter:

We got hacked last week – someone stole Thom’s minidisk archive from around the time of OK Computer and reportedly demanded $150,000 on threat of releasing it.

So instead of complaining – much – or ignoring it, we’re releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion. Just for the next 18 days. So for £18 you can find out if we should have paid that ransom.

Never intended for public consumption (though some clips did reach the cassette in the OK Computer reissue) it’s only tangentially interesting. And very very long. Not a phone download. Rainy out, isn’t it though?

(As a fellow resident of Oxford, I can confirm that Jonny is right that it’s quite rainy at the moment.)

Ardent Radiohead fans interested in the band’s archaeology will no doubt be delighted that the creep’s plan has unravelled for their benefit. Of course, to really enjoy the recordings in an authentic fashion you’ll copy your favourites amongst the high fidelity FLAC downloads onto a C90 cassette tape.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

3 comments on “Radiohead refuses to pay $150,000 ransom for ‘hacked’ recordings, releases them instead”

  1. Ed

    "…the creep’s plan has unraveled for their benefit." *creep* – I see what you did there. ;)

    1. coyote · in reply to Ed

      'Unravelled'. But semantics aside: he frequently puns which is one of the most delightful things for me though I don't spend the amount of time here I used to since that thing called 'real life' (that I never truly believed in) caught up in some ways though very late. That and lots of crises. I presume at least it's a pun; if there is it's beyond me – perhaps something to do with the band (if so that would explain it) or otherwise it's the dead exhaustion at it.

      Anyway Graham is definitely a punner (which is a word that at least some computer dictionaries do not know – Apple for example and I suspect also the standard Linux dictionary – but I’m too lazy to check). I also have my own word (I've coined a number of words over the years) that describe it: punnery (sorcery with words – which is itself a pun though I would normally spell it 'sourcery' – or more generally clever use of words that includes punning but is more than that).

      Some of the ones that come to mind (yes it's intended but it's circumstantial nonetheless): when some sex website was compromised he put 'hot and bothered'. And on another one (We Live Security I think it was) he wrote 'worth [one's] salt' – when it was about passwords (or maybe it wasn't which would make it even better in some ways).

  2. coyote

    'cassette tape' brings back memories. Good ones. So would records but I have many more of those than tapes. I cannot hear the difference between lossy and lossless though so FLAC makes no difference for me.

    As for the issue at hand if I hadn't just spent quite a bit of money on books I would consider donating to that charity as I like what I see (but I do also donate to another charity). So whereas you say that fans are likely to find value here I would say that it's also beneficial for a charity to help (rather try) our planet.

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