The Sony Pictures Entertainment Hack

The Sony Pictures Entertainment Hack

The Problem
On November 24, 2014, a hacker group called the “Guardians of Peace” or
GOP successfully attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment (www.sonypictures.com;
SPE). The attackers obtained personally identifiable information about 47,000
current and former SPE employees and their dependents. These materials included
numerous sensitive e-mails among top SPE executives concerning actors, financial
deals, and creative disagreements; executive salaries; and complete copies of
unreleased Sony films. The information included names, addresses, social security
numbers, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers, bank account information,
credit card information used for corporate travel and expenses, usernames and
passwords, and compensation and other employment-related information. The
hackers claimed to have stolen more than 100 terabytes of data from SPE.
The GOP initially released the most damaging information over the Internet.
This information consisted of digital copies of SPE films that had been released (e.g.,
Fury) or were yet to be released (e.g., Annie). In addition, the attackers announced
they would continue to release more interesting SPE information.

Although the specific motives for the attack had not been revealed as of mid-
2016, the hack has been linked to the planned release of the SPE film The Interview.

In this movie, producers of a tabloid television show learn that North Korea’s leader,
Kim Jong Un, is a big fan of the show, and they set up an interview with him. While
the show’s team is preparing for the interview, the CIA recruits them to assassinate
Kim Jong Un.
Prior to the Sony hack, North Korean officials had expressed concerns about
the film to the United Nations. The officials stated that “to allow the production and
distribution of such a film on the assassination of an incumbent head of a sovereign
state should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as
an act of war.”
On December 16, 2014, the GOP mentioned The Interview by name, and they
threatened to take terrorist actions against the film’s New York City premiere at
Sunshine Cinema on December 18. The GOP also threatened similar actions on the
film’s America-wide release date of December 25 (Christmas).

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