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Hackers shut down Sony Pictures' computers and are blackmailing the studio

Hackers shut down Sony Pictures' computers and are blackmailing the studio

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Today, employees across the Sony Pictures offices were greeted with a strange picture as they tried to login to their computers. Since this afternoon, computers at the company have been completely unresponsive, showing a glowering CGI skeleton, a series of URL addresses, and a threatening message from a hacker group that identifies itself as #GOP. Dozens of Sony Twitter accounts were also commandeered to tweet out similar messages, although Sony seems to have regained control of those accounts. Early reports from Sony employees suggest the studio has yet to regain computer access.

A now-deleted tweet captured by B2C, calling out Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

The group appears to have obtained a number of sensitive documents from Sony Pictures, many of which are named in a .zip file shared at the posted URLs, and is threatening to release them if Sony pictures does not comply with the group's demands. (The demands themselves are still unclear.) The documents named in the .zip file are widely varied, suggesting the attackers pulled the full contents of an employee server. Dozens of podcast mp3 files are named alongside potentially sensitive records and password files, the latter of which would explain how the group was able to commandeer so many Twitter accounts at once. There is already a Reddit thread devoted to piecing through the files. The attackers are threatening to release the full records at 6PM Eastern Time, after which we may know more.

In the meantime, the compromise seems to have brought day-to-day work at the studio to a crashing halt. Employees are reportedly unable to send email, use their computers, or even answer phones. As one employee told Deadline, "We are down, completely paralyzed." In the official statement, Sony used more measured language: "We are investigating an IT matter."

11/24 5:02pm ET: Updated to include Sony statement

11/24 5:46pm ET: Updated to include more detail on the contents of the .zip file