At the beginning of last week, the network servers at Sony Pictures came under an attack from a hacker group that identified itself as Gardians Of Peace or #GOP that incapacitated the studio’s Culver City, New York and international offices. The studio had been tight-lipped about the breach, releasing a statement to Deadline that “We are investigating an IT matter.” It was an IT problem that all but ground the company to a halt for nearly two days. A picture of the message that greeted Sony employees when they tried to log onto their system has made its way online (via business2community.com).
At first it was unclear as to what the hackers meant by releasing “Secret and top secret” data that Sony would not want shown to the world. But then this past weekend, several digital screener files of upcoming Sony films, complete with studio watermark, suddenly appeared on various file sharing networks. Among the titles are October’s World War Two drama Fury and their modernization of the Broadway musical Annie, set for release on December 19.
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any real motive behind the attack. (Though would it be too much to hope that one of their demands was that Sony give the film rights to Spider-Man back to Marvel?) The hackers’ message does note that Sony had been previously warned, though there has been no been no reporting of any previous hacks of Sony’s systems.
One interesting theory as to the reason behind the attacks have been forward by Re/Code, who are reporting from an unnamed source that the studio is investigating the possibility of a link between the hack and the North Korean government. Last week, an anonymous spokesperson for the despotic regime once again voiced displeasure over the fact that Sony was releasing The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco which centers on an assassination attempt on North Korean’s ruler Kim Jong-Un.
Sony and outside security consultants are actively exploring the theory that the hack may have been carried out by third parties operating out of China on North Korea’s behalf. The sources stress that a link to North Korea hasn’t been confirmed, but has not been ruled out, either.
The idea that North Korea would be behind the attack on Sony is not as far fetched as you may think. The government is believed to have been behind a cyberattack on two South Korean television stations and that country’s financial system last year.