Last week Sony Pictures suffered a staggering hacking attack, when all computer systems went down and the internal e-mail service was completely unusable for several days. The greatest blow against the company however, was the leaking of five new movies being developed by Sony Corp’s film and TV studio unit – starring Brad Pitt movie Fury, Annie, Mr. Turner, Still Alice and To Write Love on Her Arms.
The movies in question have been one of the largest hits on piracy websites, scoring more than 880,000 downloads, stated Excipio, a piracy tracking firm. Since then, cyber-specialists have managed to contain the leak and remove the links to the downloadable files.
As of now, this is considered to be the first major destructive cyber attack against an American company. The attack was launched by a hacking group known as GOP, who then proceeded to blackmail Sony, warning the company that they obtained all of the internal data and classified information and will not hesitate to release it if their demands were not met. No information on the demands has been released in any statement, nor whether the hacking group has made any so far.
Sony Pictures has immediately hired the help of forensics unit FireEye Inc’s Mandiant to recover from this cyber attack of grand proportions while United States Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun a series of cases to track down not only the group responsible, but the source of the request as well. In the meantime, FBI got involved in helping companies prevent such future attacks by providing technical details regarding the malicious software that was used against Sony and how to counter it, while insisting that the Bureau will be contacted if similar malware is detected.
Investigators have reason to believe that the attack might have been ordered from North Korea. One of the movies developed under Sony Entertainment’s label is scheduled to be released on December 25th and features a comedic story of two journalists recruited by CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, the current leader of North Korea. Its reception by the Pyongyang government was unexpected, as government respresentatives described it as being an “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war”, creating a fair amount of controversy. Earlier in 2014, North Korea’s official news agency promised retaliation if the film ever got released.
Another reason why FBI believes there is a connection between this occurrence and North Korea is the nature of the attack – apparently some of the software that was used in the attack appears very similar to ones launched in South Korea and Middle East, also widely believed to have originated from North Korea.
FBI reports did not confirm any possible connections to North Korea.