CES 2015: Sony Chief Condemns Cyber-Assault

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Sony’s Hirai has praised staff for standing up to hackers, as North Korea responds angrily to US sanctions

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Sony chief executive Kazu Hirai has condemned the “extortionist” cyber-attack on Sony Pictures in November that led to the release of its film “The Interview” being suspended.

The hack penetrated Sony Pictures’ internal network and led to the leak of unreleased films, as well as the publication of embarrassing internal documents, including the salary details of top executives and personal information on Hollywood celebrities.

South Korea - Shutterstock - © Aleksandar Mijatovic

The group who claimed responsibility for the attack, Guardians of Peace, accused Sony of stirring up political troubles with “The Interview”, which imagines an assassination plot against North Korea’s leader.

The group later threatened attacks upon cinemas who released the film, and as a result most major cinema chains declined to screen the film. Instead it was released in a small number of independent cinemas and distributed online by Sony, Microsoft, Google and Apple.

In off-the-cuff remarks before a Sony press event, Hirai spoke of the hack for the first time, calling it “one of the most vicious cyber attacks” ever known. He said it would be “remiss” of him if he were not to mention the events.

“I have to say that I’m very proud of all the employees, and certainly the partners who stood up against the extortionist efforts of criminals, and worked tirelessly, sometimes for days on end to bring you ‘The Interview’,” Hirai said.

“I have to say that freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association – those are very important lifelines for Sony and our entertainment business.”

Meanwhile North Korea has denounced the United States for imposing sanctions against it in response to the hack. On Friday, the US sanctioned 10 North Korean government officials and three organisations, including the country’s intelligence agency and state arms seller, in retaliation for the attack, for which the FBI has said North Korea is responsible.

“The policy persistently pursued by the US to stifle the DPRK [North Korea], groundlessly stirring up bad blood towards it, will only harden its will and resolution to defend the sovereignty of the country,” a North Korean government spokesman was quoted as saying by the state KCNA news agency on Sunday.

Retaliation

The move represents the first time the US has imposed sanctions in direct response to a hack. North Korea is already under heavy US and international sanctions for its weapons programmes.

After the US promised a response against North Korea, the country experienced several Internet blackouts. US government officials have declined to comment on whether the US was linked to the blackouts.

North Korea has denied involvement in the attack, but criticised Sony over “The Interview” and called the hack a “righteous deed”.

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