An excerpt from our new Weekly Beat section brought to us by ScreenBeats, here’s Part One of the Sony Hack which will be available 12/26/14:
What follows is the first course to a three-part series into the Sony hack.
Skyfall pitch meeting, circa 2010:
Writer: “Okay we have this hacker that infiltrates MI6. They release sensitive data on their operatives. The hacker gets into their computer systems from inside and causes all this destruction. Eventually M has to step down. Bond plays cat and mouse and then kills the hacker.”
Sony Head: “We love it, but can you make it more believable?”
On November 22nd Sony Pictures Entertainment (“SPE”) experienced a massive, network-wide cyber attack that not only left their computers inoperable, the hackers released sensitive and monumental data, around 100 terabytes, onto the web that has caused considerable financial and personal damage and has now been elevated to a terrorist event. ScreenBeats™ examines the case and details how this mess occurred and what it means for creative artists in the cloud-computing era.
Think on your sins Sony! You have wrought this upon yourself and now your financial empire is in peril. The studio has suffered more than a data breach; it has struck the proverbial IT iceberg. Alleged North Korean cyber-spies, calling themselves Guardians of Peace, cackled in glee earlier this month after having walloped hard the Sony executives’ balls (especially Amy Pascal’s) over the withdrawing of The Interview. Now that Sony has done an about-face to a limited release and VOD, the GOP has provided a response in the form of a Christmas gift, this time targeting co-Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton.
REPORTS OF ICEBERGS
In April of 2011 Sony’s Playstation network was hacked and then two months latter more than 1 million user accounts were compromised after a network breach with the SonyPictures.com website. What was leaked was information like passwords, email addresses, dates of birth and other Sony opt-in data. As reported by Mashable, the scariest thing wasn’t what was taken but how easy it was to do it:
“LulzSec says that all of the information it took was unencrypted. “Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plaintext,” says the hackers’ press release, “which means it’s just a matter of taking it. ”
Mashable asked the question back then that again seems dumbfoundedly appropriate with the North Korean attack: “Is anyone at Sony employed to handle web security?” Sony didn’t learn from this previous breach and this makes them liable now to dozens of individual and class action lawsuits.
After these cyber attacks, SPE made $100 million worth of budget cuts earlier in the year, after taking a loss of $181 million for one quarter alone in 2013. Some of these deep cuts included layoffs with their IT crowd. (‘Have you tried turning it off and on again Sony?’) SPE has laid-off over 800 people in the past four years and in doing so has made their security system and management weaker to attacks. Because of their box office failures recently they have taken an approach to making less features and focusing more on their television division. Since more money will be spent on fewer films, the tent poles they do have, like the upcoming Spectre have to burden the increased risk for succeed. Leaks such as what has happened to Sony last month make these films easier targets for failure.
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