Thousands of emails and documents from last year’s cyberattack on Sony Pictures have been published in a searchable database by WikiLeaks, the website best known for posting classified government and military documents, according to media reports.
The files appear to include conversations the film studio had with Hollywood figures and with members of the British government, according to BBC News, and Sony condemned their release in a statement that called the initial attack “a malicious criminal act.”
Attacks in response to The Interview
The hacking, which took place in November, is believed to have originated in North Korea and been in retaliation for Sony’s plans to release The Interview, a comedy in which two characters played by Seth Rogen and James Franco are recruited to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
North Korea denied involvement in the attack, according to the British media outlet, but praised it as a “righteous deed.” The following month, threats of terrorist attacks on movie theaters led Sony to temporarily cancel the film’s release, but that decision was eventually reversed because of public pressure, and The Interview was given a limited Christmas Day release.
Documents from the incident had already been leaked online, but the WikiLeaks cache takes it a step further by compiling over 30,000 documents, 170,000 emails, and other information deemed “sensitive” to the company by CNET in a searchable database called “The Sony Archives.”
Public domain and newsworthy, or harmful to the company?
In a statement, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said that the archive “shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” and that the documents in the archive were “newsworthy and at the center of a geo-political conflict” and belonged “in the public domain.”
Sony officials responded with a statement of their own, saying that they “vehemently disagree” with that assertion. “The attackers used the dissemination of stolen information to try to harm” Sony Pictures and its employees, the company said, “and now WikiLeaks regrettably is assisting them in that effort. We… will continue to fight for the safety, security, and privacy of our company and its more than 6,000 employees.”
The security breach had forced Sony to completely shut down its computer networks for several weeks, and among the information that was leaked was the personal information of over 47,000 celebrities, current and former Sony employees, and full versions of unreleased movies.