The November data-breach scandal continues to bring fresh waves of embarrassment to the Hollywood studio
The much publicised Sony Pictures hack, believed to have been carried out by North Korean cyber terrorists in response to the release of the James Franco and Seth Rogen comedy The Interview, is still raking up mud many months after it was perpetrated. According a report from Fortune magazine, the attack on the company’s data was so severe that it forced Sony’s offices to go entirely old school with the technology used on a day-to-day basis.
Writing in Fortune, journalist Peter Elkind says: “From the moment the malware was launched – months after the hackers first broke in – it took just one hour to throw Sony Pictures back into the era of the Betamax. The studio was reduced to using fax machines, communicating through posted messages, and paying its 7,000 employees with paper checks.”
Sony Pictures was forced to immediately change its operating structures because the damage wreaked by the hackers was so widespread. Every employee’s computer screen had threatening messages posted on it, all of its data breached, and was infected with “a special deleting algorithm that overwrote the data seven different ways.”
And yet, in spite of the severity of the data breach, the Fortune article reveals that Sony was lax and careless in its approach to cyber security. The report includes an interview with the security firm Norse Corp, which claims its employees were allowed to enter Sony’s IT hub unaccompanied and whose employees witnessed several logged-in computers running without anyone sitting at them.
Sony’s CEO Michael Lynton has also repeatedly referred to the November hack as “the worst cyberattack in US history,” as well as calling the hackers’ work to breach Sony’s security measures “highly sophisticated.”
But these statements have been called into question by Ed Skoudis, a cyber-security expert interviewed in the Fortune report, who said that the skills displayed by the hackers were the same as those of “midlevel students,” before adding: “I didn’t see the bad guys jumping over any extreme hurdles, because there weren’t any extreme hurdles in place.”
Earlier this month, Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, Oscar-nominated documentary filmmakers, revealed that their next project would be a documentary investigating the Sony hacking scandal and its fallout for the Hollywood film industry.