Sony Corp. hackers, invoking Sept. 11, threatened violence at movie theaters showing “The Interview,” complicating the studio’s efforts to contain the devastating cyber attack.
“Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” the so-called Guardians of Peace wrote on file-sharing websites. “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.” Meanwhile, ex-employees filed a lawsuit accusing Sony of failing to protect their personal information.
The purported hackers’ threats intensified a day after Sony’s top Hollywood executives apologized to employees and vowed in meetings with staff that the hackers won’t bring down the Culver City, California-based studio. Each day’s efforts to get the studio operating normally have been met with new releases from the hackers, media reports and now a lawsuit.
Michael Lynton, chief executive officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and studio head Amy Pascal have tried to focus on rebuilding the trust of current and former employees, whose Social Security numbers, salaries and health records are now public. The company issued a press release stating that it took “prompt action” to contain the attack.
“I am incredibly sorry that you had to go through this,” Lynton told employees yesterday, according to an individual who attended. “I realize the last few weeks have been incredibly stressful for all of us. What has occurred at Sony is a systematic criminal attack on our staff and business.”
Sony knew it had inadequate measures in place to protect its data and suffered breaches twice before this year’s attack, the two former employees said in a complaint filed yesterday in Los Angeles federal court.
They called the breach “an epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than to real life.”
The hackers’ latest threats targeted anyone who goes to theaters to watch “The Interview,” which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony plans to release the Seth Rogen film on Dec. 25. Sony lawyers have linked the film to the cyber attack in letters to the media.
“We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time,” the hackers wrote in a reference to theaters that will show the film. “(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”
FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and phone call for comment on the latest threat. Representatives of Sony Pictures didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
The four largest theater operators also didn’t respond.
The hackers also continue to target Sony employees. They have demanded more personal information, dangling the promise that those who comply will be be excluded from future leaks.
The latest batch of documents named Lynton. Past releases have included the inboxes of Pascal, Sony Pictures General Counsel Leah Weil and Sony Pictures Television President Steve Mosko.