Nickelodeon says some of allegedly stolen data ‘appears to be decades old’

Children’s television giant Nickelodeon said it is investigating an alleged breach after hackers claimed to have stolen 500 GB of data.

For days, cybersecurity experts have warned that hackers are sharing stolen documents from the network that included leaks from the Nickelodeon animation department. Some of the information allegedly dates back decades.

Screenshots of the files allegedly taken included folders on some of Nickelodeon’s biggest titles, including Rugrats, Avatar: The Last Airbender, SpongeBob SquarePants, Danny Phantom, the Smurfs, Monster High and more.

Cybersecurity experts at vx-underground said the leaks included “information on never released television shows, scripts, and more.” The experts added that lawyers from Nickelodeon are using Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) rules to force social media sites to take down posts with content within the leaks. Despite the efforts, screenshots of the alleged information continued to float around platforms like Twitter and Reddit.

A spokesperson for Nickelodeon told Recorded Future News that they are aware of the posts and “that alleged production-related files were made available without authorization and we are investigating.”

“The alleged leaked content appears related to production files only, not long-form content or employee or user data, and some of it appears to be decades old,” the spokesperson said.

They declined to comment on the concerns of researchers being hit with DMCA violations due to discussion of the leaks.

Some of the animators involved in the projects took to Twitter to ask that people delete their posts about the leaks out of respect for those working on projects coming out in the future.

The company, which is owned by media conglomerate Paramount, did not say whether the leaks were the result of a hack or cyberattack.

But vx-underground said the leak came from Nickelodeon’s consumer products and experience portal, which allegedly dealt with an authentication issue earlier this year that allowed users to get access to the company’s animation department.

“Materials leaked in January, 2023 on Discord. [Nickelodeon] has patched the portal,” vx-underground said.

Cyberattacks on film and animation studios are common, with the most prominent being the 2014 attack against Sony Pictures involving hackers from North Korea. The hackers leaked troves embarrassing employee emails, personal information about executives, copies of films, scripts and more.

Founded in 1979, Nickelodeon was the first cable TV channel exclusively for children’s content. It is now available to millions of homes in the U.S.

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.