Sony employees to meet with FBI over hacked personal data

An email from the head of Sony Entertainment Michael Lynton to Sony staffers tells them the FBI will be on hand in their Hollywood offices this week.

Seth Rosenblatt
Seth Rosenblatt Former Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
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A security guards walks past the entrance to Sony Pictures Plaza in Los Angeles, California on December 4. Investigators do not yet know the full extent of the breach, although the FBI confirms it will meet with Sony employees this week. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The FBI will advise Sony Pictures employees on how to manage the leak of their personal information stolen in a massive hack of Sony computers, the law enforcement agency confirmed late Monday.

The FBI will visit the Hollywood offices of the film and TV arm of Japanese tech and media conglomerate this week, according to an email sent by studio chief Michael Lynton updating employees on the status of the joint investigation of the hack being conducted by the FBI and security firm Mandiant, reported Variety.

"Over the weekend, you should have received my note sharing cyber security expert Kevin Mandia's thoughts on this unprecedented and highly sophisticated attack on us," Lynton wrote. "I know it is unsettling that we have been the target of such an attack, but I want to assure you all that we have the recognized experts working on this matter and looking out for our security."

Lynton said he would address Sony Pictures employees in a company-wide meeting on Friday.

Sony didn't respond to a request for comment.

The episode began on November 24 when a hacking group calling itself the Guardians of Peace claimed to have obtained Sony Pictures' internal data, including its "secrets," and said it would release the data to the public if its demands were not met, according to reports. It is unclear what the hacker group was demanding.

As of today, hackers have released around 140 gigabytes of a cache of internal Sony files and films they claim totals at least 100 terabytes -- approximately 10 times the amount of information stored in the Library of Congress. The information included passwords, employee Social Security numbers, and contracts with celebrities and distributors.

Several former Sony employees said they saw their personal data in leaked documents. "The studio's done absolutely nothing to reach out to us," said one former high-ranking Sony employee who left the company earlier this year and reached out to Sony in the wake of the attacks for more information. "Their response was paper thin, a form response."

Circumstantial evidence and speculation suggested the hackers were working on behalf of North Korea, which has denounced Sony's upcoming film "The Interview," starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as TV journalists who become embroiled in a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In June, North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the movie "terrorism" and described film-makers as "gangster-like scoundrels." A spokesman for the foreign ministry said the country would retaliate if the film -- due for release next month -- is shown. Over the weekend, North Korea expressed support for the hackers but denied involvement in the attack.

Correction, December 9 at 8:45 a.m. PT: An earlier version of this story misspelled Michael Lynton's name.