It is not everyday an international electronics conglomerate bows to the threats of an unknown cyber-organisation, but after the incredibly damaging Sony Pictures hack, it looks like Sony is taking the #GOP group seriously.
This week, the mysterious hacking group changed their narrative, asking for the removal of The Interview from cinemas rather than equality or money. The language used by #GOP mimics the North Korean statement regarding the movie that called the film “an act of war”.
The #GOP message threatened an attack on the scale of "9/11" to any moviegoers who watch The Interview. In response, Sony Pictures allowed cinemas to stop screenings of the movie, and now the studio has pulled the plug on The Interview entirely.
Sony Pictures flat-out cancellation of the film has surprised a lot of Americans, who did not see the threats made by #GOP as anything more than threats. The Department of Homeland Security echoed this sentiment in a statement, claiming there were no signs of potential attacks on cinemas.
It is only in the past few days #GOP has been actively pushing to get The Interview removed from cinemas. Beforehand, the group were releasing information and used vague phrases, claiming CEO Michael Lynton was evil, along with the rest of the executives.
Some claim the #GOP is riding The Interview’s controversy in order to masque its own work. Considering U.S. security teams have already pinpointed where the hack took place — in St. Regis hotel Bangkok — #GOP might fear the U.S. government finding them.
There are a few elements of the hack that can be drawn back to North Korea. The hack is similar to others sent to South Korean banks and press and was encoded in Korean. The power of the hack also indicates a state-funded group, capable of outsourcing to Thailand.
However, North Korea has never pulled off a hack at this scale. Security experts claim this is one of the most sophisticated hacks ever, and the #GOP shows no real motive, releasing information for free onto the Internet.
There is plenty of unknowns still to be answered. U.S. officials are reportedly close to naming North Korea as the attacker, but other reports claim the evidence for North Korea responsibility is flimsy.