In recent years, Sony Pictures Entertainment has been one of the most highly targeted companies by cyber crime groups.
The last months of the year 2014 were very tough on Sony, after a cybercriminal group which identifies itself as GOP (Guardians of Peace) performed the biggest cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. In this article I will make a short summary of the attack:
When Sony Pictures employees came into the office on Monday, November 24th 2014, they discovered that their corporate network had been hacked. The attackers had left messages threatening to release sensitive information if Sony didn’t comply with the attackers’ demands; All Sony employees found the same message on their computer screens (see the above picture)
The GOP hacker group claimed responsibility for the hack and had apparently stolen reams of internal corporate data as well. GOP leaked the movies Annie, Fury, Still Alice, Mr. Turner and To Write Love on Her Arms to the internet on Black Friday.
The massive data breach at Sony appeared to have exposed more sensitive documents, revealing the US Social Security Numbers of more than 47,000 celebrities as well as freelancers, current and former Sony employees. Employees at Sony Pictures Entertainment were sent a threatening email by the GOP. The e-mail was written in English and asked the company employees:
“Please sign your name to object the false (sic) 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.”
A number of DDOS attacks (Distributed Denial-of-Service attack is an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users) were launched against Sony servers by several hackers groups.
Is North Korea behind this cyber-attack?
Sony Pictures is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate the whole matter. Till then, the employees at the Studio were told to turn off their phones after receiving this email message.
Sony believes that the cyber-attack on its network is ‘payback’ for the upcoming Kim Jong Un assassination comedy film, The Interview, which is about two journalists who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Manhattan today, FBI director James Comey went into more detail about how the FBI determined that indeed, North Korea was behind the recent digital attacks on Sony Pictures.
So what we can learn from the recent events?
That there is no room for laziness when it comes to information security. We know there are many CEOs who think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but the fact is you must invest time and money in order to increase the information security level in your company.