Sony Employees Threatened Following Company Hack

Things are getting intense as the Sony hack grows. Employees of the company are now receiving threatening e-mails from the alleged hackers saying that their families will be in danger.

Since late November, Sony has been left to pick up the pieces following a hack of its computer systems. At first, the hack seemed small as a few movies leaked online. Movies making their way on the web is really not that newsworthy because, sooner or later, it’s going to get posted anyway. Perhaps the only two significant thins seemingly coming out of the story at the time is that a few scene groups will find themselves beaten to a release and the fact that a webpage was defaced.

Interestingly enough, the story did get bigger as over 40GB of internal information was publicly posted. Buzzfeed notes what was leaked online:

The data dump, which was reviewed extensively by BuzzFeed News, includes employee criminal background checks, salary negotiations, and doctors’ letters explaining the medical rationale for leaves of absence. There are spreadsheets containing the salaries of 6,800 global employees, along with Social Security numbers for 3,500 U.S. staff. And there is extensive documentation of the company’s operations, ranging from the script for an unreleased pilot written by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan to the results of sales meetings with local TV executives.

This is certainly where this story seemed to have turned much more sinister. For a number of people, the sentiment seems to be that it’s one thing to hurt a company whose policies you disagree with, but quite another to target staff members who likely had nothing to do with the decision making.

Recently, things took a rather dark turn after GOP threatened the families of Sony employees. Threatening e-mails hit Sony employees inboxes according to HotHardware. GOP claimed that they have over 100TB of data, though it is unclear if the data could partly contain things like raw video footage (which can easily eat up a lot of memory in a hurry). Here’s more from the report:

things start taking a creepy and dangerous turn as the email continues:

Our agents find themselves act in necessary places. Please sign your name to object the false of the company at the email address below if you don’t want to suffer damage. If you don’t, not only you but your family will be in danger… Nobody can prevent us, but the only way is to follow our demand. If you want to prevent us, make your company behave wisely.

Hacking a corporate network is one thing, but threatening employees and their families (whether it be through physical or cyber threats) is crossing over into dangerous territory. Thanks to these new threats, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is taking a more active part into the investigation of both #GOP, and the hack they perpetrated.

“The FBI is aware of threatening emails that have been received by some employees at Sony Pictures Entertainment,” said the FBI in a released statement. “We continue to investigate this matter in order to identify the person or group responsible for the recent attack on the Sony Pictures network.”

Given that a lot of this seems to be centered around the film “The Interview”, a lot of fingers have been pointing to North Korea. North Korea denied responsibility, but called the act righteous:

“The hacking into the SONY Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK,” it said, using the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “The hacking is so fatal that all the systems of the company have been paralyzed, causing the overall suspension of the work and supposedly a huge ensuing loss.”

North Korea’s response was riddled with anti-U.S. and anti-South Korea rhetoric.

The statement didn’t outright say the North Korean government was not responsible. But KCNA called North Korean involvement “a wild rumor” and the government suggested it couldn’t be behind a cyberattack on “a country far across the ocean.”

“We do not know where in America the SONY Pictures is situated and for what wrongdoings it became the target of the attack nor we feel the need to know about it.”

It’s unlikely that the denial would stop any speculation given how confused some of the reasons why they couldn’t have done it are.

Meanwhile, Sony has been calling the act “unprecedented”. From Recode:

In his comments, Mandia described the malicious software used in the attack against Sony as “undetectable by industry standard antivirus software.” He also said that the scope of the attack is unlike any other previously seen, primarily because its perpetrators sought to both destroy information and to release it to the public. The attack is one “for which neither SPE nor other companies could have been fully prepared,” Mandia said.

Sony’s comments on the attack come on the same day that North Korea denied any connection to it, but in the same breath praised the efforts of those responsible for it.

Where things go from here is quite unclear. How the hackers can even carry through with any threats is a bit of a mystery. What else could be publicly released is also unclear because what has been posted is about as damaging as it gets. Will things escalate from here? If so, in what way? What is clear is that we are at a very open-ended part of the story. There’s really too many question marks at this point to even speculate on where things go from here. What is clear is that this is a very significant story unfolding.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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