A week ago, Sony Pictures was hacked; unnamed sources told Recode that Sony is worried the attack was carried out by hackers working on behalf of North Korea. Why? Allegedly because of the upcoming Sony comedy about assassinating North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. North Korea previously called releasing the film “an act of war.”
In the action-comedy The Interview, Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show "Skylark Tonight." When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
On Black Friday, the North Korean government-controlled site, Uriminzokkiri, released a statement denouncing The Interview. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the North Korean site called the “conspiracy” movie, made by “trashy filmmakers,” an “‘evil act of provocation’ that deserves ‘stern punishment’.”
The Guardians of Peace (GOP), the group that claimed responsibility for breaching Sony, warned the studio that “if you don't obey us” then they would release Sony’s “secrets and top secrets.” Over the holiday weekend, four unreleased Sony Pictures movies and one released film were leaked. Torrent Freak added that the watermarked DVD screeners included Annie and Mr. Turner, both of which will be released in the U.S. on December 19, 2014; Still Alice, which will hit U.S. theaters on January 16, 2015; and To Write Love on Her Arms, which is due to be released in the U.S. in March 2015. Fury, starring Brad Pitt, also appeared on torrent sites; the film was in theaters starting on October 17, 2014, and is still being shown.
Indeed, this morning those movies were all listed as “hot XVID DIVX torrents” on ExtraTorrent.
A Sony spokeswoman told Variety, “The theft of Sony Pictures Entertainment content is a criminal matter, and we are working closely with law enforcement to address it.” As of yesterday at 11 a.m. Pacific Time, piracy-tracking firm Excipio said Fury had been downloaded over 1.2 million times by unique IP addresses; Annie surpassed 206,000 downloads; there had been around 104,000 downloads of Still Alice, over 63,000 downloads of Mr. Turner, and about 20,000 people had grabbed To Write Love on Her Arms.
Besides those movies, the estimated 11,000 gigabytes of files stolen from Sony Entertainment also included passwords, emails, documents and film budgets. ArsTechnica added there were also “media files for television shows that aren’t Sony Pictures products and may have been pirated copies on an employee's desktop,” and “PDF files that apparently contain the passports, visas, and other associated identity documents of cast and crew for various Sony productions, such as actors Jonah Hill, Cameron Diaz, and Angelina Jolie.”
The Verge, which previously said a GOP hacker claimed to have had insider help breaching Sony, reported that Sony’s internal email systems remain offline. Reuters added that Sony hired FireEye’s Mandiant forensics unit to clean up after the massive cyber attack. The FBI is also investigating the attack.