Right now there’s a lot of hullaballoo surrounding the recent Sony Pictures cyberattack. And the press’ ensuing feeding frenzy has been no end of fascinating. It’s brought up issues that have run the gamut from security of employee information to freedom of the press in reporting on stolen documents.
As the hackers (basically North Korea or at least their hired guns) kept dumping gigabyte after gigabyte of corporate information, we learned quite a bit about the inner workings inside one of Hollywood’s largest production companies. Mainly that it’s just like any other big company and people get mad at each other quite a bit. Also, people write crappy things about everyone else when they think no one is looking. No one else ever does that! Sony was understandably feeling powerless as all they could do was watch their privacy get dumped into the clammy hands of eager gossip journalists. So they did what anyone does when someone is doing something you don’t like. They marched up the jungle gym, looked out across the playground and asked everyone to “please stop that.” Strangely enough, this didn’t work.
The stolen files are an Old Country Buffett of data. They range from typical privacy breaches (corporate emails that read like Entourage episodes), genuine safety concerns (home addresses, private phone numbers, and even social security numbers), to outright property theft (DVD screeners of five Sony films were leaked online – four of them had not been released yet). It’s a pretty bad situation, especially for a company that was already struggling. Now, Sony is being sued by their own employees, both current and past, for failing to protect their information. And going by past reports and freshly leaked data Sony is going to have a very hard time proving otherwise.
While nothing this serious had occurred before this incident, Sony had suffered cyberattacks in the recent past and continued to operate as before without beefing up security. They were completely aware of the holes in their system. I used to work for a carpet cleaning company. We also did flood restoration. And yes, it completely sucked. Floods happen for a variety of reasons, but most of them are preventable after the first time because you have now presumably identified where the water came in and gotten it fixed. On more than one occasion, we would find out that the homeowners in question had experienced the same issue before (you know, grey water pouring into the basement) and were instructed by their insurance company to get it fixed if they wanted coverage on future issues. Guess what usually happened?
After multiple high-profile security issues, you would imagine that Sony, a freaking tech company, would – let’s stretch that metaphor a little farther – get their basement sealed. I’m not at all justifying what happened to Sony. It’s a serious cybercrime, and I can guarantee that if the culprits are found, something is going to go down (no it won’t be World War III). But not changing your locks after a series of break-ins and then playing victim when your furniture disappears doesn’t really do you many favors. Yes, you’re a victim. But you’re a stupid victim.
To Sony employees – you guys deserved better. I’m sorry that your bosses didn’t protect your data. To everyone else, this should be a good reminder of the world we live in. I’m sure a lot of people are going to use this as a reason why tech is bad and dangerous and causes problems. After all, Sony essentially just got hacked back into the early ’90s. But this is a rare event, and the fact that it happened to a tech conglomerate like Sony makes it all the more inexcusable. When a house without a lock gets broken into, you don’t talk about how unsafe houses are. You say, “why didn’t that Sony guy put a lock on his house after all his stuff kept disappearing?”