Sony Hack Attack: Studio Has Made Progress in Restoring Critical Business Systems, Insider Says

The studio’s computer systems were compromised last Monday by a group that calls itself “Guardians of Peace,” a.k.a. #GOP

James Franco, Seth Rogen, "The Interview"
Columbia Pictures

Sony Pictures Entertainment is working with law enforcement to combat last week’s hack that paralyzed the studio’s email, phone system and computers, and slowly making progress to get systems back up.

“Sony Pictures continues to work through issues related to what was clearly a cyber attack last week. The company has restored a number of important services to ensure ongoing business continuity and is working closely with law enforcement officials to investigate the matter,” the company said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.

A studio insider told TheWrap that there is still plenty more work to do to rectify the damage caused by a group that calls itself “Guardians of Peace,” or #GOP, but business critical systems as well as certain key systems are back up and running.

The FBI is also investigating the hacking incident and is working with interagency partners to lead a probe into the cyber attack.

“The theft of Sony Pictures Entertainment content is a criminal matter, and we are working closely with law enforcement to address it,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

The studio insider said Sony is exploring all avenues to get to the bottom of the mystery. One theory is that the Seth RogenJames Franco comedy “The Interview” may have triggered the attack.

An individual with knowledge of the situation previously told TheWrap that Investigators are checking to see if North Korea, or someone operating on its behalf, launched the cyber attack in retribution for the R-rated Christmas Day release that follows a TV personality and his producer on a quest to interview, then assassinate dictator Kim Jong-Un.

The studio was crippled last Monday when an ominous image of a skeleton first appeared on employees computer screens when they tried to log in to the computer system. As of Friday, the studio’s email, phone system and computers remained paralyzed.

To add more alarm to the situation, five movies were leaked online, including Brad Pitt WWII drama “Fury,” as well as upcoming family film “Annie,” and three more unreleased titles, “Mr. Turner,” “Still Alice” and “To Write Love on Her Arms.” There is no proof, however, that the piracy is related to the cyber attack.

The hackers also gained temporary control of several Sony Twitter handles, and tweeted a shocking image of the heads of studio CEO Michael Lynton and co-chairman Amy Pascal on a platter with scales of justice.

“You, the criminals including [Sony Pictures CEO] Michael Lynton will surely go to hell. Nobody can help you,” the tweet read.

A Reddit thread detailed the data that the Guardians of Peace claims to have obtained in Monday’s attack, which included a message pledging to release sensitive corporate data taken from the network. The list of files, which could not be independently verified, is is a broad range that allegedly includes A-list actors’ passports, financial data, contract documents, password information and executive emails.

The security break at Sony Pictures marks the second time that Sony Corporation had been targeted by hackers.

In 2011, the online network for Sony’s PlayStation game console was broken into, exposing names and credit card numbers for millions of customers. By the time damages from more than 50 class-action lawsuits had been paid, it’s estimated that Sony spent more than $2 billion as a result of the breach.