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<a href="/news/sony-breach-raises-spectre-of-blackmail" title="Sony Breach Raises Spectre of Blackmail">Sony Breach Raises Spectre of Blackmail</a>
Posted on: 27 Nov 2014 

Posted By: IT Wiser

Sony Breach Raises Spectre of Blackmail


The course of network security breaches may have taken a decidedly new turn thanks to a brand-new attack that has rendered Sony Pictures virtually paralysed as employees wait for company IT staff to fight off the attack. Some experts are speculating, based on the type of information stolen, that the security breach is somehow related to blackmail.

The latest attack is believed to be from a group known as Guardians of Peace (GOP). It began at Sony's New York headquarters earlier this week, as employees fired up their computers at the start of the workday. They were greeted with an image of an angry skeleton and a warning message claiming stolen data would be released to the world if Sony did not meet the demands of the attackers. Some of the data was indeed released.

Concerns of potential blackmail are being raised because of the fact that the stolen data seems, for now, to be limited to text documents and spreadsheets. Within the documents may be sensitive information regarding Sony's business practices as well as the company's relationships with actors, agents, and various kinds of film industry workers. A list of the stolen information that accompanied the initial release even includes famous names such as Angelina Jolie and Cameron Diaz.

In response to the attack, Sony Pictures instructed all employees to turn off and unplug their computers, disconnect all mobile devices from company Wi-Fi networks and stay away from e-mail and social media. Meanwhile, the company's IT staff is working with security experts to regain control of computers and remove any possible threats.

The New Frontier

If this new attack is indeed based in blackmail, the question then becomes one of 'why'. What do hackers have to gain? They stand to gain a lot, actually.

The most severe security breaches to date involve accessing customer names, account numbers and user names and passwords, for the purposes of stealing money or services. However, credit card companies and online businesses alike are quickly catching on to such scams. There may come a point when trying to steal that kind of information does not offer a large enough profit to make it worthwhile. The blackmail angle may be nothing more than hackers evolving to take advantage of better and more profitable ventures.

Assuming GOP was to successfully blackmail Sony Pictures, they would most certainly look to other large companies in order to pull off similar scams. It is even conceivable that other groups would use the tactic to blackmail political leaders and entire governments or government agencies. The possibilities are very serious when you stop and think about it.

Sony Pictures will more than likely find a way to bring an end to this latest security threat. Nevertheless, that does not mean businesses and organisations can let their guards down. Continued diligence is required to prevent security breaches regardless of their size or scope. Moreover, it is not going to get any better.

ITWiser offers a full range of security packages and services designed to keep your computers and networks safe. For more information about how we can help your company, do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible. The more diligent you are about network security, the better protected your data will be.

The Register