We’ve reported a lot of hacks over the past few years, and while the NSA takes the cake in terms of sheer evilness, especially towards American citizens and citizens abroad, the recent hack of Sony may prove to be the costliest hack ever. Yeah, this one’s a doozy.
Over the last week or so, hackers have virtually crippled Sony in multiple ways, including disabling computer systems and email. Beyond that, movies such as the remake of Annie and the Brad Pitt World War II drama Fury got leaked, and reports indicate that five thus far unreleased films have also appeared on various illicit sites online. If that weren’t enough, internal documents and memos have been leaked, as well as the personal information of some of Sony’s movie stars — everything from salaries to Social Security numbers. The malware used in the attack is so potent that the FBI has been warning other businesses to be careful about their own vulnerabilities. The cost of fixing the computers and trying to safeguard against future attacks would be substantial by itself, but the leaked movies also hit Sony’s bottom line, as they’ll likely result in reduced ticket sales. Potential lawsuits could cost Sony even more.
The hackers have thus far only been identified by their own moniker, “The Guardians of Peace.” They say that more information will be leaked in the coming weeks. No one’s sure who the “Guardians of Peace” actually are, but Sony and the FBI are investigating the possibility that the attack was perpetrated by North Korea in retaliation for the forthcoming release of The Interview, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogen in a comedic and satirical plot about the attempted assassination of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s controversial leader. (The salaries of the two leads were leaked as well — Rogen got $8.4 million, and Franco $6.5 million, so I guess that means Rogen will take Franco out for a beer or six?). Apparently, North Korea approached the U.S. government with its concerns about the movie, and the government didn’t respond as North Korea would have liked. Come on, guys. Haven’t you ever seen Ali G or Borat? This stuff’s a JOKE. I mean, kind of. North Korea hasn’t denied involvement, and has said Sony needs to “wait and see” whether the hack is a retaliation for the forthcoming film.
Aside from the hits Sony will take financially and in terms of the studio’s credibility, it’s possible that longer-term implications of the hack will involve censorship or self-censorship of corporations in an effort to prevent debilitating retaliatory hacks.