Sony Pictures, whose executives were reportedly working on chalkboards as recently as yesterday, are investigating a possible connection to North Korea in the attack that took down their computers earlier this week. Specifically, according to Recode, the company is "exploring the possibility that hackers working on behalf of North Korea, perhaps operating out of China."
As for motivation, Recode speculates one reason could be The Interview, Sony Pictures' upcoming comedy wherein Seth Rogen and James Franco play journalists enlisted by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Earlier this year, the North Korean government called The Interview an "act of war" and threatened a "resolute and merciless response" if the film was released. The film was rumored to be digitally altered in post-production to remove specific North Korean military insignia, but the main plot still stands.
In an email to The Verge from an address associated with the hack, someone who identified as "lena" claimed the hackers are working for "equality" and that they "worked with other [Sony] staff with similar interest to get in." The hackers, who call themselves "Guardians of Peace" and use the hashtag #GOP, shut down all of Sony Pictures' computers, with monitors displaying instead the image of a glowing red skeleton and vague demands. The hackers threatened to release Sony's "secrets and top secrets" if the company did not comply with the demands (which the group says Sony was already aware of). The deadline was reportedly this past Monday night; so far, nothing obvious has been released.
The Interview, whether or not it's related to this attack, is still currently scheduled for a US release on Christmas Day, December 25th.