MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
When employees at Sony Pictures Entertainment tried to log onto their computers last Monday, they were greeted by a sneering red skeleton on their screens and the words, hacked by #GOP. That group is calling itself The Guardians of Peace. After that, the studio computers went dark. Ryan Faughnder has been reporting about this for the LA Times. And Ryan, this hacking group, GOP, left a message on those computers with some threats. What were those threats?
RYAN FAUGHNDER: They said that they have troves of internal data from Sony Pictures and that they threatened to release that data if their demands were not met. And those demands haven't been specified.
BLOCK: And what kind of internal data might that be?
FAUGHNDER: Well, it's hard to tell. There's been a thread on Reddit that's been trying to piece it together. The hackers may have been claiming that they have data including passport information for actors attached to certain Sony films - financial data as well. But so far, none of that has materialized. However, in the days following the hack, about five Sony films, new and upcoming, have been leaked to torrent websites - sites where people illegally can download movies, music - things like that.
BLOCK: So some of these - four of these, I think, were unreleased movies - movies that have not yet made it to the screen. Those have been leaked and a lot of people are downloading them, right?
FAUGHNDER: Right, a lot of people are downloading them. The biggest one is the upcoming remake of the musical "Annie." But the most popular one so far appears to be "Fury" which is the Brad Pitt World War II drama, and it's still in theaters.
BLOCK: Has there been any response from Sony Pictures?
FAUGHNDER: Sony, in fact, has recruited a IT forensics firm to investigate, and the FBI is also looking into the situation.
BLOCK: There's also been some speculation that North Korea could be behind the hack. What's the basis for that?
FAUGHNDER: Well, that came out of a report on Friday by the tech blog Re/code, which said without naming sources that Sony was investigating whether or not hackers in China working on behalf of North Korea could be behind the attack. Now, the thinking there is that it could be some kind of retaliation for the movie "The Interview," which is the Seth Rogen, James Franco movie in which those two actors who play TV personalities are recruited to assassinate the North Korean dictator. But so far, those reports haven't really been substantiated.
BLOCK: Worth noting here, Ryan, that Sony has had trouble in the past with hacking.
FAUGHNDER: Yeah, it's true. Their PlayStation Network was hacked in 2011. And that breach resulted in millions of customers' data being released. So this is something that - when IT experts are looking at this breach, they're thinking, well, has Sony really done enough to protect itself?
BLOCK: Ryan Faughnder covers the film industry for The Los Angeles Times. Ryan, thanks so much.
FAUGHNDER: Thanks for having me.
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