On Tuesday, the group claiming to be responsible for the massive hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment posted a message on text sharing site Pastebin threatening violence against theaters showing the movie 'The Interview,' the controversial comedy action film about planning an assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The group (or someone claiming to represent the group) invoked the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks while threatening screenings of the movie, which is scheduled to be widely released on Christmas Day.
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
Along with the message were links purporting to provide more documents from the attack, labeled "mlynton" -- an apparent reference to Sony Pictures chief executive Michael Lynton.
The group, which calls itself GOP, short for "Guardians of Peace," has been leaking internal documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment online after a cyberattack on the studio that began Thanksgiving week. The group has threatened further disclosures unless the company stops the release of what it calls the "movie of terrorism" -- presumed to be a reference to "The Interview."
Some investigators believe that the hack is linked to North Korea. Cyberattacks against South Korean media and financial institutions last year shared some technical details with the attack against Sony. North Korea has denied any involvement in the attack, but suggested that people who sympathize with the country may have been responsible. North Korean officials have called "The Interview" an "act of terrorism" and called for "merciless" counter-measures if released.
The message seems more likely to be aimed at getting Sony Pictures or theaters to pull the film than a credible threat to go after every theater planning to show the movie. "The North Koreans are famous for making really bombastic, over the top threats," said James A. Lewis, senior fellow and the director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“They'll continue to make threats, but they aren't going to do a cyber-9/11,” he said.
The real concern, Lewis said, is that North Korea might go a little too far and force the U.S. government to aggressively respond -- a situation that could be bad for both sides.
“We aren’t very well prepared” for a full scale cyber conflict, Lewis said, noting that some pieces of "critical infrastructure" would likely not be equipped to handle a nation-state level assault.
The breach has engulfed Sony,
Late Monday, lawyers representing two former Sony Pictures employees filed a class action suit against the company in Los Angeles, alleging that the studio was negligent for ignoring warnings about the vulnerability of its computer systems. The hack has resulted in the release of a cache of personal information about former and current Sony employees, including their salaries, Social Security numbers and, according to some reports, even some medical data.