Employees at Sony Pictures aren’t feeling too cheerful this holiday season. Hackers, believed to be backed by North Korea, compromised corporate systems and were able to make off with a massive amount of sensitive information. On top of the loss of data, the cybercriminals also caused disruptions to the company’s email systems and plastered computer backgrounds with images of skeletons with the message “Hacked by #GOP. Warning: We’ve already warned you, and this is just the beginning. We have obtained all your internal data including secrets and top secrets.”
The group allegedly behind the attack calls itself Guardians of Peace and originally attempted to blackmail the studio with the stolen data. Apparently their needs were not met as they publicly leaked a long list of information obtained during the breach. The information was published in a .zip file that contains a total 217 MB of data. Information released by the cybercriminals includes the emails of Sony employees, as well as actual messages written between studio executives. Multiple Twitter accounts owned by Sony Pictures appear to have been compromised by the hackers as well. The group also shared files containing multiple unreleased Sony movies, potentially costing the studio millions of dollars during the holiday shopping season.
Stolen data not the only problem
According to the Associated Press, two separate lawsuits have been filed by four former employees on the basis that sufficient steps were not taken to protect their personal information. Almost 50,000 Social Security numbers were stolen during the hack, as well as salary information and other personal data of current and former employees.
The first lawsuit alleged that the company knew about weaknesses in its systems for years and studio executives made the business decision to accept the risk instead of fix the problems. The former employees claimed that this breach was especially egregious because the company has suffered repeated attacks over the years, including a 2011 hack into Sony’s PlayStation network that revealed account details on millions of users.
The second suit was brought by two former movie production workers who claimed that the studio took too long to tell employees about the breach and that their data may have been stolen. The case alleges that a California law was violated that serves to protect sensitive financial and medical information.
“The repercussions of Sony’s failure to implement and maintain reasonable security practices and procedures will likely damage plaintiffs and class members for the rest of their lives,” the second lawsuit states.
Protect against the effects of a breach
Enterprises are beginning to experience much higher costs associated with major data breaches, and not just financial ones. Between fines for failing to meet compliance requirements, lawsuits from employees affected in the breach and a loss of reputation in the wider community, becoming the victim of a hack can have lasting consequences. In order to defend against such a breach, companies need to implement reliable security solutions. Anti-Virus software from Faronics allows organizations to protect against malicious actors by employing multiple defense techniques, including firewalls, anti-rootkit, anti-spyware and Web filtering.