WASHINGTON/BOSTON – Sony Pictures Entertainment representatives have advised U.S. authorities they are deeply concerned the studio might fall victim to more cyberattacks after it releases the film “The Interview” on Dec. 25, a U.S. national security source said on Friday.
“They are spooked,” said the official, who was not authorised to publicly comment on government discussions with the Sony Corp unit, which is still rebuilding some computer systems as it seeks to repair its public image after a devastating two-pronged attack was revealed last month.
Sony Pictures spokeswoman Jean Guerin declined comment on the U.S. official’s remark ahead of the Christmas Day release of “The Interview” in the United States and Canada.
People familiar with probes by both the U.S. government and Sony have previously told Reuters that Pyongyang is the primary suspect. They believe the attack was retribution for backing of “The Interview,” a comedy about a CIA assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
A second U.S. government official told Reuters the National Security Division of the Department of Justice is involved in the hacking probe, which is a signal that the authorities are actively investigating whether “state actors” could be behind the attack.
To be sure, U.S. officials say that while North Korea is a leading suspect, they are continuing to investigate the case and have reached no final conclusion.
John Carlin, assistant attorney general for the National Security Division, said on Tuesday at an event sponsored by online subscription service Bloomberg Government, that Sony was closely cooperating with the Justice Department investigation.
“It has our full attention and we’ll continue to work, cooperatively and in partnership, with Sony,” he said.
Hackers infected the studio’s network with software that wiped hard drives of Windows computers, preventing them from booting up.
They also stole vast quantities of data, then leaked sensitive documents on the Internet. Those documents included private emails in which executives made irreverent comments about celebrities and U.S. President Barack Obama, prompting the studio to issue public apologies.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Jim Finkle in Boston additional reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; editing by Gunna Dickson)
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