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Sony Pictures has been targeted by a widespread hack that has staffers logged off their computers while the studio investigates.
THR has confirmed that computers across the studio were breached today by a group calling itself #GOP. The group boasted, “We’ve obtained all your internal data including your secrets” and threatened to release the data to the world unless demands are met. It is unclear what the demands are or if they are evident to the studio.
Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesperson Jean Guerin gave a brief response to questions about whether a hack occurred. “Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced a system disruption, which we are working diligently to resolve,” said Guerin in a statement on Tuesday.
The news comes a day after a hacker group called DerpTrolling claimed that it hacked into Sony’s PlayStation Network and published the email addresses and passwords of gamers. Those claims were refuted by Sony, which insisted there was no breach. In August, PlayStation was temporarily unavailable to tens of millions of users thanks to a coordinated attack on the network. And in 2011, Sony endured its worst hack to date when millions of PlayStation user emails and passwords were compromised.
As for Monday’s incident, a studio source says it is unclear if the hacker or hackers were targeting parent corporation Sony or the Culver City studio Sony Pictures. But studio employees were definitely affected, with many, including a Sony TV staffer, taking to Facebook to relay news of the incident and their lack of computer access. A Screen Gems employee who asked not to be named said he was asked to shut down his computer, but phone use remains acceptable. Still, staffers are staying put at the studio’s offices both in Los Angeles and New York, and are simply keeping off their mainframes and emails.
Though studio employees bemoaned the fact that they had no computer access, Internet security expert Hemanshu Nigam says Sony was smart to take swift action by unplugging studio-wide.
“Sony deserves praise for going offline while they figure out what is happening rather than allow further damage,” Nigam says. “Hackers are always on the hunt for holes in a network, which can happen when a system isn’t updated properly or a feature change is made. It is critical for companies to conduct self-hacking exercises on a continuous basis to find and patch these vulnerabilities before the hackers find them.
As for whether today’s hack is related to yesterday’s supposed PlayStation breach, Nigam says: “It is quite possible that yesterday was a deliberate diversion while the hackers worked on breaking into Sony corporate. Hackers often use tactics used during warfare. All studios should be on red alert and monitor their system logs extremely carefully for any anomalies.”
(Austin Siegemund-Broka contributed to this report.)
8:35 am, Nov. 25 Updated with Tuesday statement from Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesperson
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