Shrouded with scepticism and uncertainty, the Sony hacks are the latest instalment in an everlasting feud between the US and North Korea.
Beginning on November 24th, Sony Pictures Entertainment went into meltdown quicker than your Christmas snowmen with the first signs of New Year sun after their systems were infiltrated by a group known as “Guardians of Peace”. So, just how bad was the damage?
To put things bluntly, the hackers got inside and took everything they could find, and I mean everything. So extensive was this smash and grab, it is the largest corporate hack in history. Whilst restoring systems and protecting the employees amounts to tens of millions, the wider fallout is a more catastrophic result. Company strategies have been exposed, private conversations about people revealed and early deals thwarted. Sony is already facing lawsuits from former employees after masses of private information was released – and as we all know with the internet, once it’s out there, good luck trying to put a lid on it. In hindsight, Sony probably wishes it had considered a different security question other than the “mother’s maiden name”.
According to the FBI, the attack was initiated by North Korea – the majority of their evidence pointing to an overlap of methodology relating to previous attacks on banks in Seoul (2013) which were largely attributed to the nation. North Korea avidly denies any involvement in the proceedings, and even offered to perform a joint enquiry with the US on the matter.
Despite shrugging its shoulders, North Korea emerges as a nation with a clear motive. Just earlier this summer, North Korea threatened retaliation for the release of “The Interview”, a comedy film starring Seth Rogan and James Franco, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un. After the hackers started threatening potential viewers, the major theatres pulled out. This forced the entertainment company to cancel the initial release. Uh oh, maybe Kim Jong was concerned that his ever perfect hair quiff would not be well-represented on screen.
So what’s going to happen now? After rejecting the offer of the joint enquiry, President Obama stated that the US would respond “proportionately in a place and manner which was appropriate”. This means that no one really knows what is happening at present or what is going to be done about it; the FBI still has a momentous task of trying to decipher the true circumstances of this situation. Away from the prospect of enforcing repercussions, President Obama is urging Congress to consider new cybersecurity laws to defend against attacks as such in the future. Actress Jennifer Lawrence probably wishes this had come sooner. Worryingly for Sony, with the amount of information the hackers absorbed, threats continue that it will be a constant release stream of reputation-damaging data for the foreseeable future; so keep your eyes posted for the uncensored information concerning all your celebrity heart-throbs.
As for the film lovers amongst us, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton confirmed yesterday (23rd December) that “The Interview” will be shown in a limited number of independent cinemas on Christmas day; a reversal of decision that President Obama welcomes. Trying to curb the freedom of expression in America is a daunting task always doomed to fail.
Merry Christmas, Kim Jong Un. We can’t wait to see your blockbuster debut on the big screen.
By Dre Efthymiou