Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment Hack

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Celebrities React To The Sony Pictures

It's been four weeks since hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace began their cyberterrorism campaign against Sony Pictures Entertainment. In that time thousands of executive emails and other documents have been posted online, employees and their families were threatened, and unreleased films were stolen and made available for illegal download. The hackers then escalated this week to threatening 9/11-like attacks against movie theaters scheduled to show the Sony film "The Interview." That fanned security fears nationwide and resulted in the four top U.S. theater chains pulling the film from their screens, ultimately driving Sony to cancel the film's release.

Here's a look at key developments in the hack:

Nov. 24: Workers at Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, California log on to their computers to find a screen message saying they had been hacked by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace. Their network is crippled. Personal information, including emails, Social Security numbers and salary details for nearly 50,000 current and former Sony workers are leaked online. Screeners of unreleased movies, including "Annie," are uploaded to the Internet and are quickly downloaded illegally.

35 PHOTOS
Movies Sony Hack
See Gallery
Timeline of the Sony Pictures Entertainment Hack
Concept photo in high contrast black and white of hacker's fingers on keyboard
Kazuo Hirai, president and CEO of Sony, speaks during a news conference at the International CES on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
FILE --In this Oct. 4, 2013 file photo, Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman, arrives at Variety's 5th Annual Power of Women event at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Pascal is under fire for racist remarks that surfaced in emails made public by the Sony cyberattack. Pascal apologized Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, for the “insensitive and inappropriate” comments in her emails that she says are “not an accurate reflection of who I am.” (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2011 file photo, producer Scott Rudin attends The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures awards gala at Cipriani's 42nd Street in New York. Rudin, the high-powered producer at the center of the latest embarrassment stemming from the Sony hacking scandal, has apologized for remarks he made in leaked emails. In the series of private emails obtained by Gawker and Buzzfeed this week, Rudin, corresponding with Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, called "Unbroken" director Angelina Jolie a "spoiled brat" and made jokes about President Barack Obama's race and presumed taste in movies. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2014 file photo, Sony Pictures Entertainment headquarters in Culver City, Calif. Some cybersecurity experts say they’ve found striking similarities between the code used in the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment and attacks blamed on North Korea which targeted South Korean companies last year. Sony has not commented on any Korean connection, except to deny a report Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 that it was poised to announce such a link. But three independent researchers told The Associated Press there are intriguing signs of a North Korean link to the attack, even as others warned it’s difficult to make a definitive connection. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, FIle)
Actors James Franco (L) and Seth Rogen arrive for the premiere of the film 'The Interview' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2014. The film, starring US actors Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-Un, played by Randall Park. North Korea has vowed 'merciless retaliation' against what it calls a 'wanton act of terror' -- although it has denied involvement in a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group and Producer Todd Black seen at Columbia Pictures Premiere of "The Equalizer" at 2014 TIFF on Sunday, Sep. 7, 2014, in Toronto. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Sony Pictures/AP Images)
Actor Brad Pitt poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film Fury, which closes the BFI London Film Festival, in central London, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Actors, from left, Jon Bernthal, Logan Lerman, Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf pose for photographers at the photo call for the film Fury, which closes the BFI London Film Festival, at the Corinthia hotel in central London, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Actor Brad Pitt, right, and director David Ayer pose for photographers during the photocall of "Fury", in Paris, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
From left: Shia LaBeouf, General of the French army Christian Baptiste, Logan Lerman, Jon Bernthal, Brad Pitt, General of the French army Herve Charpentier, Michael Pena and director David Ayer pose for photographers during the photocall of "Fury", in Paris, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Director David Ayer, actors Michael Pena, Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman attend the press conference for 'Fury' during the 58th BFI London Film Festival at The Corinthia Hotel on October 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for BFI)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Brad Pitt attends the closing night European Premiere gala red carpet arrivals for 'Fury' during the 58th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on October 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/WireImage)
Washington, DC, USA. 15th Oct, 2014. Actor Brad Pitt poses with soldiers at the world premiere of "The Fury" at the Newseum on October 15, 2014 in Washington DC. © Debby Wong/Alamy Live News
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Quvenzhane Wallis, actress from the movie 'Annie' attends a Turnaround Arts New Orleans Event at ReNew Cultural Arts Academy on November 20, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Getty Images for Columbia Pictures)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 1911' - The night continued by celebrating the new, contemporary spin on the classic show 'Annie,' coming to movie theaters December 19th. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie, talented young dancers joined her to perform a dance to 'It's The Hard-Knock Life,' choreographed by Mandy Moore, in the two-part finale, beginning MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), on ABC. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Quvenzhane Wallis, actress from the movie 'Annie' attends a Turnaround Arts New Orleans Event at ReNew Cultural Arts Academy on November 20, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Getty Images for Columbia Pictures)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 20: Quvenzhane Wallis, actress from the movie 'Annie' attends a Turnaround Arts New Orleans Event at ReNew Cultural Arts Academy on November 20, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/Getty Images for Columbia Pictures)
Actress Dorothy Atkinson signs a film poster for the London Film Festival premiere of Mr Turner at the Odeon West End in central London, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 24: Actor Timothy Spall poses with his Best Actor award for his role in the film 'Mr. Turner' as he attends the Palme D'Or Winners photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 24: Actor Timothy Spall, winner of the Best Actor award for his role in the film 'Mr. Turner', attends the Palme D'Or Winners photocall during the 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2014 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, center, poses with the Palme d'Or award for the film Winter Sleep and actor Timothy Spall, second right, poses with his award for Best Actor for his role in the film Mr. Turner during the awards ceremony for the 67th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 24, 2014. At third right is presenter actress Uma Thurman and at second left is director and presenter Quentin Tarantino. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Julianne Moore, a cast member in "Still Alice," poses at a special screening of the film at AFI Fest 2014 on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, in Los Angeles (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Kristen Stewart, left, and Julianne Moore, cast members in "Still Alice," pose together at a special screening of the film at AFI Fest 2014 on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, in Los Angeles (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Kristen Stewart, a cast member in "Still Alice," poses at a special screening of the film at AFI Fest 2014 on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, in Los Angeles (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Sony Pictures Classics co-founders and co-presidents Tom Bernard, far left, and Michael Barker, far right, pose with "Still Alice" cast members Kristen Stewart, second from left, and Julianne Moore, second from right, and co-directors/co-writers Wash Westmoreland, top, and Richard Glatzer at a special screening of the film at AFI Fest 2014 on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Julianne Moore attends the premiere for "Still Alice" on day 5 of the Toronto International Film Festival at the Winter Garden Theatre on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Actress Julianne Moore arrives at AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi 'Still Alice' Premiere at Dolby Theatre on November 12, 2014 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


Some speculate that North Korea is behind the attack as retaliation for the upcoming movie "The Interview," the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy that depicts an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Over the summer, North Korea had warned that the film's release would be an "act of war that we will never tolerate." It said the U.S. will face "merciless" retaliation.

Dec. 1: The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirms that it is investigating the cyberattack but declines to comment on whether North Korea or another country is behind the attack.

Dec. 3: Some cybersecurity experts say they've found striking similarities between the code used in the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment and attacks blamed on North Korea which targeted South Korean companies and government agencies last year.

Dec. 5: The FBI says it is investigating emails that were sent to some Sony Pictures employees threatening them and their families.

Dec. 7: North Korea denies that it is behind the attack, but the country also condemns "The Interview" and relishes the attack as possibly "a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers" of the North's call for the world to turn out in a "just struggle" against U.S. imperialism.

Dec. 8: Sony Computer Entertainment says its online PlayStation store was inaccessible to users for a couple of hours. The company did not link the outage to the Sony Pictures hack.

Dec. 11: Hollywood producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal apologize for embarrassing private emails that were leaked. The two exchanged emails in which they made racially offensive jokes about President Barack Obama and Rudin made disparaging remarks about actress Angelina Jolie.

Dec. 13: Leaks appear to include an early version of the screenplay for the new James Bond movie "SPECTRE." Producers at Britain's EON productions say they are concerned that third parties who received the screenplay might seek to publish it, and warn the material is subject to copyright protection around the world.

Dec. 15: A lawyer representing Sony Pictures warns news organizations not to publish details of company files that were leaked, saying the studio could sue for damages or financial losses.

A lawsuit is filed by two former Sony Pictures in a California federal court, seeking class-action status on behalf of other current and former studio workers affected by the data breach. The suit alleges that emails and other information leaked by the hackers show that Sony's information-technology department and its top lawyer believed its security system was vulnerable to attack, but that company did not act on those warnings. The plaintiffs ask for compensation for fixing credit reports, monitoring bank account and other costs as well as damages.

Dec. 16: The hackers release another trove of data files, this time 32,000 emails to and from Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. Along with what they call the first part of "a Christmas gift," the group threatens violence reminiscent of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, targeting movie theaters that plan to show "The Interview." It warns people who live near such theaters to leave home.

Carmike Cinemas is the first chain to announce it will not show "The Interview" at its 278 theaters across the country. Sony Pictures cancels the New York City premiere of the movie at the Landmark Sunshine in Manhattan's Lower East Side, scheduled for Thursday Dec 18th.

A second lawsuit is filed by two other former Sony Pictures employees who say the studio did not do enough to prevent hackers from stealing social security numbers and other personal information about current and former workers. It also seeks class-action status.

Dec. 17: The top theater chains in the country, Regal Cinemas, AMC and Cinemark, pull the "The Interview," forcing Sony to cancel the film's Christmas Day release. Seemingly putting to rest any hope of a delayed theatrical release or a video-on-demand viewing, Sony announces it has "no further release plans for the film."

"We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public," the studio says in a statement. "We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

Shortly thereafter, a U.S. official says federal investigators believe there is a link between the cyberattack and North Korea.

Stars, politicians and pundits light up Twitter and the air waves weighing in on Sony's decision to capitulate. Many decry the move as setting a dangerous precedent in the war against hackers.

Dec. 18: The White House says evidence shows the hack against Sony Pictures was carried out by a "sophisticated actor" with "malicious intent." But spokesman Josh Earnest declines to blame North Korea. Earnest says he doesn't want to get ahead of investigations by the Justice Department and the FBI.

A third lawsuit seeking class-action status is filed against Sony Pictures. The suit filed by two other former Sony workers seeks damages and restitution for those affected by the breach, including $1,000 for each person whose medical information was stolen. One plaintiff claims Sony allowed her medical information to remain on its servers for too long; she left the company in 2009. The suit also alleges that Sony prioritized damage control over embarrassing details included in the emails of its top executives, rather than properly informing its current and former workers about the breach.
Read Full Story

From Our Partners