Sony Hack: A Timeline of Events That Led to the Attack

Kim Jong Un - H 2014
AP Images

Kim Jong Un - H 2014

Data breaches, a warning from North Korea and a CEO worried about an exploding head

This story first appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

April 10, 2011

Sony shuts down its PlayStation Network temporarily after hackers steal 77 million users' personal info and data on 24.6 million Sony Online Entertainment users.

Jan. 16, 2014

Sony vp legal compliance Courtney Schaberg writes that SPE's German website was hacked and user info compromised. German law doesn't require Sony to reveal a breach.

June 25

Kim Jong Un's government calls The Interview "the most blatant act of terrorism and an act of war that we will never tolerate" and promises a "merciless countermeasure." North Korea asks the United Nations to intervene.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reportedly cautions Sony about the film (though the studio denies being warned and a government spokesperson does not recall a warning being issued).

Aug. 6

Sony execs reject Kim's death scene in Interview because it is too graphic. Seth Rogen resists, later writing, "This is now a story of Americans changing their movie to make North Koreans happy."

Aug. 8

Sony pushes Interview's release date from Oct. 10 to Christmas Day, claiming the date is better. But emails show execs want to avoid a North Korean holiday, which Sony's top lawyer calls "offensive."

Sept. 25

Pascal tells Rogen via email that Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai has concerns about the Kim death scene: "I have never gotten one note on anything from our parent company in the entire 25 years that I have worked for them."

Sept. 25

The same day, Sony receives a network security audit revealing that a firewall and 100 network devices were not properly monitored and threats were not reported.

Sept. 29

Hirai signs off on a toned-down version of the death scene — less fire, fewer head chunks — before Pascal and motion picture group president Doug Belgrad give approval.

Nov. 21

Pascal and Lynton receive an email threatening the studio and demanding money. It is signed "God's Apstls," a phrase found in the code of the hack three days later.