Just when Sony Pictures thought it was done with the devastating hacking attack that brought the studio to its knees last winter, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks published thousands of internal documents and correspondence — totally blindsiding the studio and its public relations team early Thursday.
Not only has Assange brought more unwelcome attention to one of the most painful chapters in Sony’s history, WikiLeaks has made the correspondence readily searchable and accessible.
Sony is still weighing its legal options, which may be limited given that Assange and his compatriots have built their reputation on exposing secret documents, emails and videos.
Many of the Sony emails and financial information had been previously combed over last winter when a group calling itself Guardians of Peace first unleashed reams of documents, yet the scale of the hack is so vast that it is likely more unwanted details of the inner workings of the troubled Hollywood studio will make their way into the public square.
In its press release Thursday, WikiLeaks drew attention to Sony’s fundraising efforts on behalf of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and its support for anti-piracy efforts, two areas that were little covered in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Those reports tended to focus more on ousted studio chief Amy Pascal and her executive team’s candid thoughts about top talent such as Angelina Jolie, Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio, with few detours into geopolitics.
Previously, Sony’s legal team tried unsuccessfully to go after press outlets that reported on the emails and documents — an approach that is unlikely to work with Assange, a provocateur who is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and fighting extradition to Sweden.
Cybersecurity experts tell Variety that the new revelations demonstrate the vulnerability that all corporations face when it comes to cyber-attacks and the difficulty in cleaning up after a breach of this magnitude.
“Sony may be the victim today, but Google may be the victim tomorrow, and the question is how do you stop the dissemination of this kind of material,” said Hemanshu Nigam, CEO of online safety and security firm SSP Blue.