A couple of days ago when I first heard that Sony Pictures had decided not to release their new film, The Interview, on Christmas Day - as planned - due to a cyber attack and threats believed to be from North Korea, I thought: "Wow! When Sony finally does release this James Franco - Seth Rogen comedy, it will make a fortune! Everyone is going to rush to see it! What a lucky break for Sony!"
Just hearing the initial headlines, my assumption was that Sony was taking advantage of the situation by delaying the release and stirring publicity, and would be sitting on a gold mine. It now looks like that wasn't the case at all.
Hackers, presumably the North Koreans, published private information on-line about thousands of Sony employees - names, social security numbers, email and home addresses, and texts of emails - which undoubtedly scared the bejeezus out of the people at Sony. The hackers also spread the word to theatre chains that some of their theaters would be blown up if they showed The Interview, a satirical comedy that poked fun at North Korean President Kim Jong-un. Those big theatre chains then told Sony that they would not show the movie, and Sony had little choicer but to cancel its planned release. The bullies had won based solely on a threat.
Conjecture is that the lawyers for the theatre chains told their clients that if they showed the movie after having received the threats, they would be liable in the event of a bombing.
Actor George Clooney and his agent circulated a petition of support for Sony Pictures around Hollywood that could not get any traction, or signatures, because no one wanted to put themselves in North Korea's gunsights.
So North Korea hacked a Japanese company and delayed (or, more likely, stopped) the release of an American movie. That whole scenario would itself make a fine movie - but one that is unlikely to get made any time soon. That's very scary and very sad. If a little terrorist state can bring Sony Pictures to its knees, attacks on other world commercial enterprises are sure to follow.
This week it was a movie company. What will it be tomorrow: a major banking chain, a national retailer, a university system, a sports team, a public utility? The internet has become a necessary and vital part of our communication's infrastructure - one that must be secured and protected, not by telecom companies or other corporate overlords whose focus is on profit - but by our government itself. It's that important!