Sony hackers issue new threat; lawsuit filed

ByHanna Chu, Rob Hayes and Elex Michaelson via KABC logo
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
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A new threat has been issued by Sony hackers, warning of terrorist attacks on theaters showing 'The Interview,' the film that apparently sparked the cyber attack.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new threat has been issued by Sony hackers, warning of terrorist attacks on theaters showing "The Interview," the film that apparently sparked the cyber attack.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security says they are aware of the threats and are investigating.

On Nov. 24, hackers who called themselves Guardians of Peace broke into the Sony computer system and have been releasing sensitive information about everything from executive salaries to secret film scripts.

The cyber attack has focused on releasing embarrassing and damaging confidential information, but on Tuesday, there was an ominous twist, with the group behind the data breach promising attacks on theaters that show "The Interview." The movie, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, pokes fun at North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

"We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places "The Interview" (will) be shown, including the premier, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to," the group said in a note released Tuesday. "The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001."

Rogen and Franco have canceled all press appearances for the film in light of the threat. Sony Pictures Entertainment canceled the New York premiere of the film and also told theater owners Tuesday that they are free to decide whether or not they will screen the forthcoming film, according to ABC News.

Two leading homeland security experts call the threat little more than a "mind game."

"You have to take these types of threats seriously up to a point, but this sounds more like a hoax," said Matt Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

The Department of Homeland Security is also downplaying the threat.

"We are still analyzing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters."

Just last week, the FBI held a private meeting in New York with entertainment industry representatives to discuss the hack.

A lawsuit has been filed in California federal court against Sony Pictures Entertainment by former employees over the data breach. The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, states that "Sony failed to secure its computer systems" despite known weaknesses.

"An epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than to real life, is unfolding in slow motion for Sony's current and former employees," the complaint says.

Nearly 50,000 social security numbers were stolen, as well as employment files.

Because Sony has been hacked in previous years, the complaint alleges that Sony should have taken precautions for a data breach to protect its current and former employees.

"Sony has been a longstanding and frequent target for hackers, but it apparently made a business decision to accept the risk of losses associated with being hacked," the complaint alleges. "Sony gambled, and its employees -- past and current -- lost."

The plaintiffs, Michael Corona and Christina Mathis, are asking for compensation for fixing credit reports, monitoring bank accounts and other costs as well as damages. Corona was employed by Sony from 2004 to 2007, while Mathis was employed by Sony from 2000 to 2002.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.