When Entertainment Media Almost Saved the Day

The world will remember the Sony hack throughout history. The company took a risk communicating an important message through the worldwide medium of film. The risk was messing with one the most unpredictable, totalitarian, and dangerous countries in the world. Not only did this risk affect the entire world in one way or another, but the US is dealing with some of the impacts as well.

One of the main ways the public receives information, whether it is the US or somewhere else in the world, is through media. Yes, some people do not watch the news, but what most people forget is the other form of media available. One of these alternative forms of media is film. Even through film, messages of importance can be relayed to the masses; the audience just has to look for them. What started the controversial and unfortunate situation of the Sony Hack was the soon to be released American film The Interview.

The Interview is about two Americans who work in the public eye. In this movie, they visit North Korea to assassinate the leader, Kim Jung Un, to free the world of a totalitarian leader. Disguised as a comedy, the film does relay information discussing the inhumane treatment that Kim Jung Un inflicts on his people. Considering both Americans and the Japanese company Sony produced this film, it gives the perspective of two of the strongest countries in the world against North Korea. After the Sony hack not only several feature films were taken, but personal information of employees as well, including Americans (VanDerWerff).
Already in a state of insecurity with cyber safety, Americans have been feeling violated by this hack of the “Guardians of Peace” (which is what the hackers called themselves). David Auerbach of Slate.com wrote, “While tabloid rags are salivating over the juicy Hollywood gossip and Aaron Sorkin is writing impassioned polemics against revealing stolen information, these hackers, whoever they are, genuinely do deserve to be termed cyber terrorists,” he continued with, “many attacks are for financial gain or revelation of valuable or salacious information”. Although Auerbach is just one American, he does bring light to the point that all other cyber hacks that were pre-Sony hack were thefts, none of which had written demands like the GOP’s, “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.” By threatening the safety of the public and issuing demands, these hackers take this event from a cyber-hack to a terrorist issue.

The issue of cybersecurity is a popular topic among Americans ever since the NSA became known. Although no direct ties are made from the “Guardians of Peace” (Zetter) to North Korea, the US has proved that North Korea does have cyber hacking power (Democracy Now!). Globally, the release of The Interview sets the precedent of a line drawn by North Korea. When North Korean terrorists threaten two of the most powerful countries in the world, what is the rest of the world to do? Ironically, this actually gives power to North Korea. The movie The Interview also displays the point of view of Japan and America of the situation in North Korea. By doing this the rest of the world, can take note of these political perspectives.

On top of these complicated political situations, Sony as a company has also taken a great hit to its structure. The Sony hack happened right before the release of The Interview (which is an implication that North Korea was behind the hack). Threatened by the terrorist hackers, Sony did not release the movie in theaters worldwide, which caused them to take a major financial hit. The hackers then released the stolen information over video sharing sites, where the public could view it free. This was rather unfortunate because if Sony had not pulled the movie from theaters, the publicity surrounding this situation would have made them a lot of money. This can also be considered a global impact because by taking it out of theaters, Sony implied that there is something to be afraid of or that North Korea is dangerous.

This was the first of many issues for Sony. Because of the financial hit, they may have to lay off some of their employees (whose personal data has already been compromised) and they may not be able to fund future projects that could have made them money. To add onto this, this is not Sony’s first security breach. Their reputation as a strong technical company is soon to be diminished because of its second security breach. “In terms of security, Sony Pictures wasn’t terrible, but just average. It’s likely that comparable amounts of damage could have been inflicted on many companies via the same vectors of attack” (Auerbach). Sony tried to represent this issue not as that their security was weak, but that anyone was susceptible to this type of hack. Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, has commented, “the malware that was used would have slipped or probably gotten past 90% of Net defenses that are out there today in private industry and [likely] challenged even state government.” As far as Sony’s defense goes, this was not the strongest (especially coming from one of the biggest technological companies in the world).

This hack created a lot of damage for Sony. For a large entertainment, company to take a stand politically with such a risky topic is respectable. One of the major impacts of the Sony hack is the world being a witness to the negative consequences of sharing a strong opinion, and it is hard to witness the failure of a potentially positive message towards helping the people of North Korea using entertainment media. Maybe one day, instead of history viewing this event as an act of terrorism, history can see it as the day entertainment media almost saved the day.

Bibliography
VanDerrWerff, Todd. “The Sony Pictures Hack Is a Big Deal. Here’s Why.” Vox. N.p., 03 Dec. 2014. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
“Headlines for January 20, 2015.” Democracy Now! Democracy Now!, 20 Jan. 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
Zetter, Kim. “Sony Got Hacked Hard: What We Know and Don’t Know So Far | WIRED.” Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 03 Dec. 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2015.
Auerbach, David. “The Guardians of Peace Aren’t Like Hackers We’ve Seen Before. They’re Cyberterrorists.” Slate. 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 8 Mar. 2015. .
Goodin, Dan. “Sony Hackers Could Have Slipped past 90% of Defenses, FBI Director Says.” Ars Technica. 11 Dec. 2014. Web. 8 Mar. 2015. .

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