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Sony Pictures hackers reportedly had help from insiders

Nov 25, 20143 mins
Data and Information SecurityData BreachMicrosoft

Hackers under the banner of GOP (Guardians of Peace) claim to have worked with insiders from Sony Pictures to breach the company and then dump over 200MB of the company’s “secrets.”

A Reddit user who claimed to previously have worked for Sony Pictures posted the image which allegedly popped up on “every computer all over Sony Pictures nationwide” on Monday. The message over a bizarre red skeleton stated, “Hacked By #GOP,” which is not the political acronym for “Grand Old Party,” but instead stands for “Guardians of Peace.” The image contained a warning followed by links to data dumps that are either no longer live or the site has been overloaded by traffic.

Warning: We’ve already warned you, and this is just a beginning. We continue till our request be met. We’ve obtained all your internal data, including your secrets and top secrets. If you don’t obey us, we’ll release data shown below to the world. Determine what will you do till November the 24th, 11:00 PM (GMT).

While some curious Redditors jumped on the data dump to see what “secrets” it contained, an unnamed source  from Sony told Deadline, “We are down, completely paralyzed.”

“Users have overloaded servers hosting the alleged 200MB-plus breach caches grinding many to a crawl,” The Register added. “Users have searched the alleged Sony data caches dumped online and reportedly found private PuTTY keys, passwords for Oracle and SQL databases, source code and production schedules and hardware inventory lists.”

The first official statement by Sony Pictures was that the company was investigating “an IT matter.” Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesperson Jean Guerin told the Hollywood Reporter, “Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced a system disruption, which we are working diligently to resolve,” but “dozens” of Sony Twitter accounts were clearly hijacked. Business 2 Community captured the screen grab below from the Twitter stream of @SoulSurferMovie before it was deleted. It was also tweeted and deleted by @StompTheYardDVD and by @StarTroopMovie.

A source within Sony anonymously confirmed to TNW “that the hack and image that have appeared on computers inside Sony Pictures is real. They said that ‘a single server was compromised and the attack was spread from there’.” The source added, “We’re all going to work from home. Can’t even get on the internet.”

Bloomberg suggested the hack could be “a blackmail attempt, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.” The hackers later told The Verge the group wants “equality.” That was interpreted as “the attack was assisted or carried out by Sony employees.” An email allegedly from GOP member “lena” claimed, “Sony doesn’t lock their doors, physically, so we worked with other staff with similar interests to get in.”

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures is still suffering on day two and computers are still down, reported Deadline. The company has yet to officially say it was breached. Comments about the data leaked seem to indicate it’s real, but maybe not.

Last week, a group dubbed “DerpTrolling” claimed to have hacked Sony’s PlayStation Network, leaking 2,131 PSN logins, as well as Microsoft’s Xbox Live, after which it leaked1,473 Windows Live accounts. Both Microsoft and Sony said that’s a lie. The same group previously took credit for knocking World of Warcraft servers offline with a DDoS attack.

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.