Sony Hack Attack: 15 Newest Developments Since North Korea Named as Culprit

TheWrap recaps biggest beats from the ongoing controversy before next wave of headlines hit your news feed

The Interview movie poster, Sony logo, President Obama
Sony Pictures Entertainment/Getty Images

The cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment is shaping up to be the biggest story of the year, and will likely continue to develop in 2015.

Since it seems inevitable that more news will fly in the days leading up to Christmas, now is the perfect time to catch up on the story with all of the updates since the FBI officially identified North Korea as the culprit behind the hack attack.

Just before the U.S. put the blame on North Korea, the hackers issued a new threat to Sony over Seth RogenJames Franco comedy “The Interview”:

 “Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy.”
“we still have your private and sensitive data” and claims that they will “ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.”

“And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.”

The Motion Picture Association of America’s chariman and CEO, senator Chris Dodd, called the cyberattack “a despicable, criminal act,” but was concerned by the media coverage of the ongoing crisis:

“Disappointingly, that fact has been lost in a lot of the media coverage of this over the past few weeks,” Dodd said in a statement. “This situation is larger than a movie’s release or the contents of someone’s private emails. This is about the fact that criminals were able to hack in and steal what has now been identified as many times the volume of all of the printed material in the Library of Congress and threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who work in the film and television industry, as well as the millions who simply choose to go to the movies.”

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned North Korea for “unacceptable threats against movie theatres and moviegoers.”

“The United States condemns North Korea for the cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment and the unacceptable threats against movie theatres and moviegoers,” Kerry said in the statement obtained by TheWrap. “These actions are a brazen attempt by an isolated regime to suppress free speech and stifle the creative expression of artists beyond the borders of its own country.”

“Freedom of expression is at the center of America’s values and a founding principle of our Bill of Rights. We’re a country where artists openly mock and criticize the powerful, including our own government,” he continued. “Whatever one’s system of government or views about free expression, there is absolutely no justification for an attack like this.”

According to a statement released by the FBI last Friday, the U.S. North Korea red handed in three ways:

Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed.  For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.

The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. Government has previously linked directly to North Korea.  For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.

Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.

President Obama thinks Sony “made a mistake” by canceling the release of “The Interview.”

“Sony’s a corporation, it suffered significant damage, there were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced … having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake,” Obama said on Friday during a year-end press conference. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator in some place can start imposing censorship here in the U.S. If somebody can intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical comedy, imagine what they’ll do when they see a documentary or political film they don’t like?”

“That’s not what we are, that’s not what America’s about,” Obama added. “I’m sympathetic that some private company was worried about liabilities. I wish they’d spoken to me first. Do not get into a pattern in which we’re intimidated by these kind of criminal attacks.”

Sony CEO Michael Lynton fired back at the president, the press, and the public, who “are mistaken on what actually happened.”

“We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered, and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie,” Lynton said on CNN last Friday, before shifting the blame from the studio to the theater chains.

“In this instance, the president, the press, and the public are mistaken on what actually happened,” Lynton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “We do not own movie theaters, we can not determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters.”

Sony doubles down on blaming movie theaters for the cancellation of the Christmas Day release of “The Interview.”

“The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.

Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.

After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.”

Lynton said “The Interview” will not be distributed through Video on Demand, but again, it’s not the studio’s fault.

“There has not been one major VOD or one major ecommerce site that has said they are willing to step forward and distribute this movie,” Lynton told CNN

What about releasing it on Sony-owned service Crackle?

Although the New York Post reported on Sunday that the studio intends to make the R-rated comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong-un available for free on Crackle, a studio insider told TheWrap it is “not true.” Bummer.

There is good news: Sony attorney David Boies said the studio still plans to release “The Interview,” despite threats from North Korea.

“Sony only delayed this,” Boies said Sunday during a “Meet the Press” appearance. “Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed. How it’s going to be distributed, I don’t think anybody knows quite yet. But it’s going to be distributed.”

But more bad news for Sony: The studio has been hit with a fifth class-action lawsuit since the cyberattack began on Nov. 24.

In legal papers filed Friday and obtained by TheWrap, the plaintiff identified only as Jane Doe, claimed in Los Angeles Superior Court that her personal information was posted online in November and again this month.

“Sony is frequently the subject of data breaches and despite the known damage such breaches have caused in recent years, Sony has failed to implement and maintain adequate and advanced data security and data management systems and policies,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiff is seeking unspecified damages for the release of “personally identifiable information,” which includes social security numbers, employment records including salary history, human resources records, medical information and financial information, the lawsuit says.

President Obama does not think the Sony hack attack is “an act of war.”

While some D.C. politicians are going as far as to call North Korea’s cyberattack on Sony an act of war, President Obama is not.

“I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive,” the President said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley. “We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately, as I said.”

But what about North Korea threatening to “blow up” America?

According to a translation of a statement carried on the state-run Korean Central News Agency, the U.S. government “conceived and produced” the movie “The Interview” along with Sony, so the communist country is “fully ready to stand in confrontation with the U.S. in all war spaces including cyber warfare space to blow up those citadels.”

“Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the ‘symmetric counteraction’ declared by Obama,” the statement said.

The threat came shortly after the county denied involvement in the Sony hack.

To prove its innocence, North Korea said it would be willing be part of a joint investigation with the U.S. to find and identify the hackers behind the hacking.

“Austin Powers” bad guy Dr. Evil appeared on “Saturday Night Live” to “school” Sony and North Korea on villainy.

“Hello, way to go, a-holes,” Evil, played by “SNL” alum Mike Meyers, said. “There’s already a GOP and they’re already an evil organization.”

Watch Dr. Evil’s cold open.