For the past two weeks, Sony Pictures Entertainment has been the subject of a series of scary cyber attacks that have shut down the company’s computer system and revealed employees’ personal information such as salaries, addresses, and Social Security Numbers.
Every day, there has been some sort of new leaked information about Sony released by a group calling themselves “Guardians of Peace” (GOP).
It isn’t clear who the GOP are exactly, but many are linking the group to North Korea, who denounced Sony’s upcoming Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy “The Interview” all the way back in June. The movie centres around two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea has denied any involvement with the hack, but has said they’re glad it happened.
Since the initial seizing of Sony’s computer system by GOP nearly two weeks ago, it’s been hard to keep track of every incident that has occurred since, when, and the reasons why.
Catch up on the crazy series of events below:
The Pyongyang government denounce “The Interview” as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war” in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. North Korea promises “decisive and merciless countermeasure” if “the U.S. administration tacitly approves or supports” the Seth Rogen-written and directed comedy.
Sony ignores the comments and moves forward with the film’s December 25th release date.
Monday, November 24:
A month before the movie’s release, a hacker group calling themselves “Guardians of Peace” take over the internal computer system at Sony, displaying their own messages and skeleton image, and seizing control of promotional Twitter accounts for Hollywood movies.
After employees were told not to use their computers after the attack, a Sony Pictures source told the Times: “There are people sitting at their desks trying to do their job with a pen and paper.”
Saturday, November 27:
Five unreleased Sony films hit the web on copyright-infringing file-sharing hubs. The movies include “Annie,” “Still Alice,” “Mr. Turner,” “To Write Love On Her Arms,” and “Fury” — but no “The Interview.”
After just two days on the web, Brad Pitt’s new flick “Fury” had been downloaded by over 888,000 unique IP addresses.
Monday, December 1:
The FBI launches an investigation with the studio’s support.
“The FBI is working with our interagency partners to investigate the recently reported cyber-intrusion at Sony Pictures Entertainment,” the FBI said in a statement. “The targeting of public and private sector computer networks remains a significant threat, and the FBI will continue to identify, pursue and defeat individuals and groups who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
Tuesday, December 2:
The salaries of 17 top paid executives of Sony Pictures Entertainment leaks online.
Fusion’s Kevin Roose published the spreadsheet, explaining: “I received a link to a public Pastebin file containing the documents from an anonymous e-mailer … one interesting tidbit caught my eye: a spreadsheet containing the salaries of more than 6,000 Sony Pictures employees, including the company’s top executives.”
The cyber attack also made public Sony employees’ names, job titles, home addresses, bonus plans, and salaries.
Wednesday, December 3:
Sony CEO Michael Lynton and co-chairman Amy Pascal — whose $US3 million salaries were revealed in the previous day’s attack — send their first company-wide memo calling the situation “a brazen attack on our company, our employees and our business partners, adding that “the release of employee and other information are malicious criminal acts, and we are working closely with law enforcement.”
Additionally on this day, James Franco and Seth Rogen’s “The Interview” paychecks are revealed. The documents, as reported by Bloomberg, show Rogen was paid $US8.4 million and Franco $US6.5 million for their roles.
Later, an unreleased “Breaking Bad” pilot script leaks online.
Thursday, December 4:
Leaked Sony employee notes reveal they’re not Adam Sandler fans. One staffer complaint stated:
There is a general “blah-ness” to the films we produce. Although we manage to produce an innovative film once in a while, Social Network, Moneyball, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films. Let’s raise the bar a little on the films we produce, and inspire employees that they are working on the next Social Network.
Friday, December 5:
The hackers send an email threatening
employees’ families if they don’t support GOP’s goals. The creepy message stated: “Please sign your name to object the false 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.”
Saturday, December 6:
Seth Rogen and James Franco address the controversy on “Saturday Night Live.” Show host Franco joked during his monologue:
“Something pretty crazy happened this week. I have this movie called ‘The Interview‘ coming out at Sony and this week Sony Studios got all their computers hacked… These hackers have leaked real personal information about everybody that works at Sony and I know eventually they’re going to start leaking out stuff about me. So before you hear it from someone else, I thought it would be better if you hear it from me. Soon you’ll know that my email is [email protected] My password is LittleJamesyCutiePie — and this is all just a real violation of my personal life.”
Sunday, December 7:
North Korea denies its involvement with the Sony hack, but calls it a “righteous deed.”
A spokesman of the country’s National Defence Commission released a statement explaining North Korea didn’t know “for what wrongdoings [Sony] became the target of the attack,” he speculated that it “might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers” of the country who want to help “put an end to US imperialism.”
North Korea also called out the Sony-produced movie “The Interview,” which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco plotting to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The country had previously called the movie an “act of war” and in this new statement acknowledges it as “a film abetting a terrorist act while hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership” of North Korea.
Monday, December 8:
Sony hackers post a new message online demanding the studio pull “The Interview.” In a note posted on GitHub, the GOP wrote:
We have already given our clear demand to the management team of SONY, however, they have refused to accept.
It seems that you think everything will be well, if you find out the attacker, while no reacting to our demand.
We are sending you our warning again.
Do carry out our demand if you want to escape us.
And, Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War!
You, SONY & FBI, cannot find us.
Soon after: Sony CEO Michael Lynton sent a company-wide memo
to staff assuring the studio is doing everything it can to protect employees after a series of cyber attacks that revealed their personal information, including Social Security Numbers and addresses. Lynton promised staffers the FBI “have dedicated their senior staff to this global investigation” and that “recognised experts are working on this matter and looking out for our security.”
Later that night: The hackers reveal celebrity aliases online. The fake names used by Natalie Portman, Tom Hanks, Daniel Craig, and other A-list stars are exposed to the public. Interestingly, Jessica Alba likes to call herself “Cash Money.”
Tuesday, December 9:
release the full email boxes of Sony execs Amy Pascal and Steven Mosko.
According to The Wrap, “The Microsoft Outlook mailboxes are massive in size, each coming in at multiple gigabytes and purportedly containing thousands of email exchanges, both business-related and personal, as well as contact information for executives at other companies.”
Links to the sites where the mailboxes were made available were posted in a message claiming to again be from the Guardians of Peace.
In the wake of the Sony hack, every other studio in Hollywood has begun to assess its own digital networks and strengthen security measures.
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