Tech News

Harry Potter fans react to details over reported plot leak

By Steve Ragan Jun 21, 2007, 19:04 GMT

Earlier this week, there was a post on the Full Disclosure mailing list from a user who claimed to have used known exploits to gain access to the final book in the JK Rowling series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The user who goes by the name of Gabriel, posted several details that he claimed came form the publishers computer, because of open access and exploits use that were located on Milw0rm.com.

“Dear my brothers,” is how the letter starts; followed by what many Harry Potter fans call pure rubbish. “Yes, we did it. We did it by following the precious words of the great Pope Benedict XVI when he still was Cardinal Josepth Ratzinger.  He explained why Harry Potter bring the youngs of our earth to Neo Paganism faith.”

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.

“The attack strategy was the easiest one. The usual milw0rm downloaded exploit delivered by email-click-on-the-link-open-browser-click-on-this-animated-icon-back-connect to some employee of Bloomsbury Publishing, the company that's behind the Harry crap. It's amazing to see how much people inside the company have copies and drafts of this book. Curiosity killed the cat. Who kill curiosity?” Gabriel ended the letter.

Security surrounding the last two books has been tight. Both the US and UK publishers are reported to guard the books with nothing short of armed guard in the case of some of the printing factories. Bloomsbury, the UK publisher, declined to comment on the reports. Scholastic spokesperson Kyle Good said to Reuters, “There is a whole lot of junk flying around,” she said. “Consider this one more theory.” Good would not make comments as to whether the post on the Full Disclosure list was legit.

The author of the Harry Potter series herself in the past has warned that only a small number of people get to read the book before the publication date. Those people are the editors for Scholastic and Bloomsbury, herself, and the artists.

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.”

While there is strong doubt about the plot details leaked online, the question according to some security researchers is exactly what the publisher’s use in the way of network security. There are several known exploits online, some of them located on Milw0rm that can allow remote access to a system. With no information as to how the books are stored on the publisher’s networks, or if they are stored on secure systems, there is that slight feeling that there is some truth to the letter posted by Gabriel. The end result considering the false “hacker” reports surrounding Half Blood Prince, and Order of the Phoenix, is that Gabriel is another in what is sure to be a long line of attention seekers wanting to make a name for themselves guessing at potential outcomes.

Advance orders for the final Harry Potter book are peaking at nearly twelve million copies that are to be shipped in July when the book is released. Worldwide at the box office, the Harry Potter films have brought in over three billion dollars in ticket sales. There is a fifth Potter film due in July as well as the final book.



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