There’s plenty of rumors and speculation, but one thing is certain: something has gone awfully wrong with the computer systems at Sony Pictures Entertainment – the television and movie subsidiary of the huge Sony Corporation.
The company has shut down its servers, after a ghoulish skull appeared on computer screens alongside a claim that internal data had been stolen and would be released if undisclosed “demands” were not met.
In parallel, Twitter accounts used by Sony to promote movies were hacked to display messages attacking Sony Entertainment’s CEO from a group calling itself GOP (the Guardians of Peace) who claimed responsibility for the hack.
11 terabytes of information had been stolen by hackers from Sony Pictures, and even tweeted a photograph of a sign placed in the lift of Sony Pictures’ London office asking staff not to use their computers or log into the Wi-Fi. If hackers have indeed hijacked Sony Pictures’ network, and stolen a large amount of data, it all sounds very dramatic, but the most the company has said publicly is that it is investigating an “IT matter.” The absence of hard facts about the hack has inevitably led to reporters filling in the vacuum with some guesswork and, in some cases, speculation that may be have shaky foundations.
For instance, one report claimed that Sony Pictures was exploring the possibility that North Korean hackers could be behind the attack – because of anger over an upcoming comedy film featuring Seth Rogan and James Franco working with the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
It does appear that North Korea is genuinely unhappy about the movie, but does it really seem likely that that would motivate what appears to be a widespread attack against the Sony Pictures computer network?
That hasn’t stopped other media outlets from repeating the original claim of a North Korean link without much in the way of questioning, churning out the same “news” without considering just how tricky it might be to attribute the attack to any particular country – especially when the victim itself appears to still be mid-recovery and mopping up the mess.
Does North Korea use the internet to spy on other countries? Is it possible that hackers sympathetic to North Korea (or simply people who aren’t fans of Seth Rogan) might want to disrupt Sony Pictures’ activities? Hopefully until we know the answer, Sony will do its duty to inform the public of what information has been compromised.