Hackers apparently trying to disrupt Sony Pictures Entertainment's release of an action comedy portraying an assassination attempt on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un succeeded in crippling operations at one of Hollywood's biggest studios, embarrassing employees by releasing their salaries and stealing thousands of Social Security numbers.
While the costs to Sony Pictures for the cyberattack are piling up, there's no sign that it will pull the film, which is scheduled for a Christmas Day release. (Sony Pictures did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) And the hack has served as a massive advertising campaign for the movie: "The Interview" has been mentioned on the front pages of newspapers across the country. Stars James Franco and Seth Rogen even referred to the hack in the opening monologue of "Saturday Night Live" last weekend.
Online searches for "The Interview" have skyrocketed since the attack, according Google Trends.
Investigators have said they believe North Korea is linked to the attack, and technical details of the breach were similar to other hacks attributed by some researchers to the secretive nation. But North Korea disavowed responsibility for the attack over the weekend (while praising the attack itself).
Meanwhile, the group claiming responsibility for the cyberattack hinted at its motivation for the first time Monday, urging Sony to "stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism" -- presumably a reference to "The Interview."
Sony Pictures employees trying to use their computers when the attack first surfaced were greeted with the image of a smirking neon red skull that alluded to vague requests the attackers said had been made to Sony Pictures leadership. But until this most recent message, posted to code repository Github and e-mailed to members of the press from an e-mail account previously used by the alleged attackers, according to Ars Technica, the specific grievances of the attackers were unclear.
The message from the hackers posted Monday claims, in broken English, that the company and the FBI will not be able to find them. Posted along with the message, Ars Technica says, were links to what appeared to be archived e-mails from Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal and Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko.