The internet and connected world are evolving far more quickly than we ever expected them to. So much that a hack could become the spark that finally starts the fire between two countries that have been in conflict for decades. Yes, I am talking about the Sony Pictures hack, which has escalated to unreasonable proportions in a matter of days.
Before we dig deeper, though, let’s take a look at what happened.
A little backstory on the matter
This ordeal starts with Sony Pictures being hacked on November 24th. Their complete computer system was deemed unusable, with computer monitors displaying what would be the first message from hacker group GOP (Guardians of Peace). The group asks to “have its requests met” or else they will release private Sony information.
A lot of emails and private information has been made public since then. It wasn’t clear to the public why this was happening, but rumors of this being a North Korean issue started spreading only days after the attack. It was apparent North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wasn’t pleased with the new Sony Pictures film – The Interview.
This movie displayed actors Seth Rogen and James Franco playing Kim Jong Un’s assassins, something the leader didn’t take lightly and even considered an “act of war”. Days pass by with drama on Sony Pictures internal emails and other documents spreading across the internet. Still, this was really nothing out of hand until a few days ago, when GOP threats got really serious.
Guardians of Peace escalated its threats from leaking information to what I would call acts of terror. Making reference to September 11th (a very delicate subject for Americans), these hackers send an email warning people to stay away from theaters playing the film at hand. It was pretty much a threat of violence.
Fast-forward some days and all hell has broken loose at Hollywood. Seth Rogen and James Franco canceled press appearances, theaters no longer want to play The Interview and Sony Pictures has been cornered into canceling the movie altogether.
Where things get serious
Today may be the day a cyber attack first worsens relations between two countries. The FBI has stepped forward and announced they have proof that North Korea was involved in Sony’s hack, and therefore, in the threats made by GOP.
Though North Korea continues to deny involvement, they are pretty open about how much they dislike the film, and how they feel it was an insult to their state. Meanwhile, we have President Obama giving his end-of-the-year press conference, where a large portion of the conversation was about the issues Sony Pictures is facing.
Barack Obama states “Sony made a mistake by canceling the movie”, and that he wished “they had talked to him first” about the matter. He goes on to say we can’t allow foreign leaders to start censoring what we can and can’t watch in theaters, because if they can do this once they can probably do it again, and with more serious coverage (like documentaries, news, etc.).
Then Obama goes on to say the most important part of his response: the US will respond to the alleged North Korean attack. He wasn’t ready to announce how, but the response is said to be “proportional” and “at a later time”. You can watch the President’s speech right below.
What in the world is going on?!
I guess what I am trying to get to is: how can a cyber attack on a private institution really lead to the USA “responding” to North Korea? This is something none of us saw coming, but the mere fact that it took up a significant portion of the President’s press appearance really has a lot to say.
I was trying to avoid this word the whole time, but it would really be quite ridiculous if war was waged thanks to a silly comedy (which, it would really be about the violent threats). The movie is likely going to be horrible, anyways. Why would a leader like Kim Jong Un be intimidated by this? We see satirical impersonations of leaders all the time. This does include making fun of USA presidents like Obama, Clinton and Bush.
If no one cared about this movie before, now they do. And I am willing to bet that, if the movie were to be released, it would get many more viewers than without this pandemonium of a situation taking place. Of course, given that it wasn’t released in actual theaters, which would likely be the case.
Kim can’t seriously tell us this dumb movie was an act of war, yet go on and send his hacker messengers to threaten us with attacks on movie watchers and theaters if this movie dare make it to the big screens.
Meanwhile, distributors are in fear to support Sony Pictures with this film. But imagine if:
If only #Sony had some sort of media device in millions of homes that it could distribute this movie to, to make a stand for free speech…
— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) December 18, 2014
Regardless of what happens, this just comes to show that the internet is really changing the world we live in. So much that attacks are no longer only physical, but they also take place on the connected web of information we frequent so often. For many of us, it’s our digital place of employment… and it may have just become a battlefield.