Hours after an announcement that US authorities determined North Korea was behind the recent cyber-hack of Sony, the company announced that they were going to pull the film “The Interview”. The comedy film, about journalists who are on a mission to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, was originally scheduled for a Christmas day release. According to an official statement from the company, Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film. They also removed any mention of the movie from its website on Wednesday afternoon.
US investigators believe that the attacks originated outside of North Korea, although they’ve determined that the actions were sanctioned by the North Korean government. Currently, the US government isn’t prepared to issue formal charges against North Korea or its leadership, although the official said that a “lesser statement of attribution” is probably going to come up. Addressing the matter of the Sony hack last week, FBI Director James Comey said that the attack was “complicated”, and the government wanted to be sure that they had high confidence in the culprits before making any sort of retaliatory actions.
Sony was first hit by hackers on November 24th, with a glowing red skeleton appearing on screens throughout the Culver City-based Sony subsidary. Apparently, the hack was in response to the planned release of “The Interview”. Earlier in the week, the hackers, who called themselves the “Guardians of Peace”, posted a message threatening an attack on the scale of 9/11 on any theaters who chose to show the movie. While making the film, Sony had met with Assistant Secretary Daniel Russell of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, as well as other State Department officials, to discuss American policy in Asia.
The Sony hack has had other repercussions against Sony, with almost 38 million files stolen and doled out on file-sharing websites. Some of these files included the screening versions of five Sony films, the script to the most recent James Bond movie, embarrassing emails, salary data and personal information about Sony staff. During the three weeks since the attack, many people have been wondering what the motivation was. Historically, hackers have either stolen intellectual property as part of an industrial espionage campaign or grabbed personal data to sell. Yet an attack that simply posted material, much of which could have been sold for huge amounts of money on the black market, is completely unheard of. After entering and copying much of Sony, the hackers released extremely destructive malware on Sony’s computers. This sort of behavior hasn’t really been seen since the 90s, when “script kiddies” copied computer programs they didn’t understand and used them to wreak havoc. North Korea has been suspected of using hacking attacks against groups it doesn’t like, including South Korean media outlets and banks.