'Sony-pocalypse': Why the Sony hack is one of the worst hacks ever

Sony hack could lead to censorship
Sony hack could lead to censorship

In a single week, hackers have brought a major Hollywood studio to its knees.

Sony Pictures is dealing with more than downed computers and frozen email. Movies have been leaked, and internal documents have exposed private company memos, along with employees' salaries, Social Security numbers and health information.

One security researcher, Adrian Sanabria, calls it "Sony-pocalypse."

It's so devastating that the FBI is now warning other companies about the malicious software that infected Sony's computers.

This hack could prove extremely costly to Sony.

Leaked movies. Every stolen copy of a movie is potentially a movie ticket lost. "Fury," the World War II drama starring Brad Pitt, has been downloaded illegally 2.3 million times, according to tracking firm Excipio.

The hack also threatens to suck the life out of Sony's (SNE) remake of the musical "Annie," starring Jamie Foxx, before it hits theaters in two weeks. It's been pirated more than 278,000 times.

Sony hack prompts FBI warning
Sony hack prompts FBI warning

Embarrassing memos. The hack has also produced some embarrassing internal communications, including memos that show Sony employees are fed up with the boring, unimaginative movies Sony keeps putting out. Among the criticisms: Sony has failed to deliver on its Spiderman franchise. As one employee put it: "We continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films."

Unequal salaries. The world now knows what Sony employees make. The news organization Fusion spotted a major pay gap that runs on gender and race lines. There are 17 people at Sony Pictures who make more than $1 million a year. Only one is black. Only one is a woman.

Personal information. And to top it all off, hackers have exposed enough personal data that 3,800 employees must now be on guard for identity theft.

All of this is getting posted publicly in huge batches of computer files on sites like Pastebin.com and illegal file-sharing websites. Security researcher Dan Tentler has found that the files are being shared using computer servers owned by Sony's PlayStation Network -- adding insult to injury.

Hackers took more than 100 terabytes of data -- a leak of information so huge that Sanabria thinks it'll take Sony a year or more to go through it all and deal with the damage.

"This could get a whole lot worse," he said.

As for the latest attack, Sony executives think it might be North Korea. After all, Sony is about to release "The Interview," a comedy about a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Meanwhile, Sony has kept mostly quiet about the incident, only stating that "a disruption" occurred to its computers and that it's now working with law enforcement.

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