UTA Hack Update: Agency Hires Experts to Investigate Source, Motives

A-list firm calls in top investigators to look into outage that rippled across Hollwood

United Talent Agency has hired top experts to investigate a hack that compromised its email systems, a high-ranking insider told TheWrap.

Investigators from outside the Hollywood talent firm are looking into the source of a malware attack that made email unavailable on computer terminals at UTA’s Beverly Hills headquarters Tuesday, and disrupted the firm and other companies that deal with it, the insider said.

One key question is whether UTA was deliberately targeted, and if so, why.

The event, referred to as a “virus” by the insider, appeared to be malicious. Some inside the company say a party claiming responsibility for the hack asked for a ransom in bitcoins, TheWrap exclusively reported Tuesday. But a UTA executive disputed that had happened.

A UTA spokesman declined to comment on the matter Wednesday.

UTA represents a massive group of A-listers, including stars like Chris Pratt and Gwyneth Paltrow. The hacking had a ripple effect across the entertainment industry as meetings were cancelled and calls went unreturned. UTA agents were forced to conduct business on their own phones and personal devices.

“A ton” of calls were “cancelled and pushed,” a colleague at another talent company said. But UTA disputed the idea that there was any significant impact.

“On Monday, UTA was the subject of a malware incident — an unfortunate yet common reality of our digital world that can take place regardless of the strong safeguards a company has in place,” an agency spokesman told TheWrap. “Most importantly, we have no reason to believe any private information about the agency, its employees, or its clients has, in any way, been compromised.”