U.S. President Barack Obama doesn’t consider the recent cyberattack on the Sony Pictures Entertainment computer network an act of war, he said during an interview shown on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. Since Nov. 24, the hack has laid bare the content of Sony emails, data on executive salaries and personal information about employees, as well as copies of as-yet-unreleased films made by the company.
“I don’t think it was an act of war,” Obama said in remarks reported by Reuters. “I think it was an act of cybervandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately.”
The cyberattack on the Sony Corp. subsidiary has led the unit to take a number of precautions.
For example, Sony Pictures Entertainment chose to shut down tours of its studio in Culver City, California, because of hackers’ threats of violence over the once-planned Christmas Day release of the film, “The Interview.” Starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, the movie’s plot centers on a couple of Americans asked to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The cyberattackers call themselves the Guardians of Peace. The FBI declared Friday they have been working at the behest of the North Korean government. They allegedly gained access to Sony’s computer network by stealing the password of one of its administrators.
The group of hackers took a modicum of revenge on the FBI Saturday, when it posted on Pastebin a commentary directed at the agency and including a link to a well-known YouTube video titled, “You are an idiot.”
Many have criticized Sony’s decision to cancel theatrical showings of “The Interview,” saying the film’s removal based on anonymous attacks could encourage other groups to take similar actions in the future. “I am sympathetic to the concerns that they face. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake,” Obama said about the decision during a press conference last week. “We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can impose censorship here in the U.S.”