On November 24th, 2014 there was an unauthorized release of confidential data belonging to Sony Pictures Entertainment. This created a news story that sent a tidal wave of fear across the world. It became known simply as ‘The Sony Hack’ and here we walk you through each step of the situation as it unfolded.
Step One – The Hack
As with most great crimes, the actual act happened some time before it became common knowledge. In this case, it is thought that Sony Pictures Entertainment’s internal servers were hacked in early November 2014. A group known as the Guardians of Peace (GOP) claimed that they were responsible for this action. They claimed to have stolen around 100 TB of sensitive data from Sony, including movie footage that had not yet been released at the time.
Step Two – The Demands
The Guardians of Peace made quite a few demands but the most publicized was their implicit request that the movie ‘The Interview’ should not be released. The movie featured a plot line involving actors Seth Rogan and James Franco traveling to North Korea to assassinate the leader of North Korea- Kim Jong-un. They Guardians of Peace also accused Sony of treating some of their employees unfairly. Apparently there were other demands but these have not yet been made public.
Step Three – The Leaks
The Guardians of Peace went on to leak quite a few future blockbuster movies and also a plethora of sensitive employee related data. This included information about each Sony employee’s salary, family information and medical history details. It has been reported that the GOP contacted various employees and made threats of physical violence if their demands were not met. The leak also contained details of behind the scenes politics taking place at Sony over the last few years, including conflicts between actors, managers and producers.
Step Four – The Outcome
North Korea was in the frame from day one because they have a previous history for large scale computer hacking- just ask South Korea. They were also suspected because of the demands to withdraw the release of ‘The Interview’, which made a joke of their very own leader. Although North Korea publicly denied these accusations it is thought that they were very happy about the demands and the subsequent withdrawal of the release of ‘The Interview’. On December 17th U.S. Government officials shared their belief that the North Korean government was “centrally involved” in the attack. This claim was backed by undisclosed forensic evidence collected by the FBI.
If this whole episode has proved nothing else, it shows that even huge multi-billion dollar companies like Sony are not impervious to the very real threat that hackers pose. Attacks such as these not only pose a threat to large corporations, but their employees, various governments, the flow of business itself and the well being and peace of mind of millions of individuals around the globe.