By Vritti Gandhi
Edited by Namrata Caleb, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
From extremely sensitive personal e-mails, salaries and health records of tens of thousands of Sony employees to a string of private conversations among Hollywood biggies – all this and more was hacked into by a group that calls itself the ‘Guardians of Peace’ (GOP).
With the FBI suspecting the hack to be sponsored by North Korea, the accusation is still up for debate.
The rationale behind this speculation is in part the threats made by the GOP towards the theaters showcasing Sony Pictures “The Interview”, a movie revolving around an assassination attempt made against Kim Jong-Un.
North Korea, however has denied its involvement, and had even proposed joint investigation with the US, which they rejected.
Sony, on the other hand, has been constantly facing flak for various reasons. For one, it is being criticized for protecting the internal information poorly. However, bigger businesses with several hard-to-crack layers of protection too have been hacked into. That is no justification for the faulty protection of its employees’ information, but let’s keep that aside for now.
Sony is by and large being condemned for the way it has reacted. Being faced with the following threat, it capitulated and cancelled the movie’s release.
“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places The Interview be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to. Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.”
It did ultimately take a U-turn and decided to go for a limited release of the movie after being severely criticized for its earlier decision, which according to many would have encouraged even more of such cyber attacks besides damaging its relations and leading to huge sunk costs.
What Sony stands to lose?
Employees are frustrated. Not only were they not protected appropriately, they were made aware of the situation via blogs with no word on the matter from the top executives, as reported by one of the employees. It will definitely lose out on its workers’ confidence and their trust.
Besides the loss in productivity and revenue, it will have to bear the costs of tightening its security system, recovering the losses already incurred, tracking the hackers, working on a new system and legal issues.
Albeit the attack is being considered as one of the worst in the cyber world, the tag of ‘cyber terrorism’ or ‘cyber war’ is not appropriate. This is a case of, as President Barack Obama says, ‘cyber vandalism’.
The breach of security, sensitive information being leaked online certainly makes this dangerous, and not just another hack. However, it still is not terrorism or an act of war.
The hype revolving the case is justified to an extent. Sony has seen one of its worst nightmares come to life. Despite having dealt with the dastardly situation ineptly, the firm should now focus on correcting all its wrongs and gradually building back its brand image, coupled with regaining the confidence of its employees.
Vritti Gandhi is a second year Economics student at the Shri Ram College of Commerce. She enjoys being her eccentric self, astrology is her first love, and F.R.I.E.N.D.S is her way of life. Having co-founded a chapter of an N.G.O. in her college, she strongly wills to highlight the importance of self-sustenance. She is presently looking for her passion, hoping to light up others’ lives and leaving her own mark in this world.