WASHINGTON Nov 29 Sony Pictures Entertainment
is investigating to determine if hackers working on behalf of
North Korea might be responsible for a cyber attack that knocked
out the studio's computer network earlier this week, the
technology news site Re/code reported.
The attack occurred a month before Sony Pictures, a unit of
Sony Corp, is to release "The Interview." The movie is
a comedy about two journalists who are recruited by the CIA to
assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Pyongyang
government denounced the film as "undisguised sponsoring of
terrorism, as well as an act of war" in a letter to U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in June.
Representatives of the North Korean mission to the United
Nations could not immediately be reached for comment on
Sony Pictures' computer system went down on Monday. Before
screens went dark, they displayed a red skull and the phrase
"Hacked By #GOP," which reportedly stands for Guardians of
Peace, the Los Angeles Times said.
The hackers also warned they would release "secrets" stolen
from the Sony servers, the Times reported.
Re/code said in a report late Friday that Sony and security
consultants were investigating the possibility that someone
acting on behalf of North Korea, possibly from China, was
responsible. Re/code said a link to North Korea had not been
confirmed but it had not been ruled out.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that Sony
Pictures was investigating every possibility, adding no link to
North Korea has been uncovered.
Sony acknowledged the computer outage in a statement on
Tuesday. Emails to Sony were bouncing back on Saturday with a
message asking senders to contact employees by telephone because
its email system was "experiencing a disruption."
"The Interview," scheduled for release in the United States
on Dec. 25, stars James Franco as the host of a tabloid
television show that is enjoyed by Kim, and Seth Rogen as the
show's producer. When they are granted a rare interview with
Kim, the CIA wants to turn them into assassins.
KCNA, the official news agency in isolationist North Korea,
quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman in June as promising a
"merciless counter-measure" if the film is released. The
government also wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama asking him
to stop it, the Voice of America reported.
(Reporting by Ron Grover, Michelle Nichols and Jim Finkle;
Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Frances Kerry)