Sony asks media not to publish leaked emails, as hackers threaten ‘Christmas gift’ of new leaks

Hacker group has offered to spare employees' emails from being leaked, if they ask, as Sony says data was stolen to stop the release of a film

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The Independent Tech

The hacker group that has crippled Sony Pictures after a huge cyber-attack has threatened a “Christmas gift” of yet more leaked data, but has said that it will spare Sony Pictures employees if they ask nicely.

The threat came as a Sony lawyer wrote to media organisations to tell them to delete the leaked emails and not to publish information found from them. The letter also connected the hack with the release of The Interview, a controversial film about North Korea, which has been suspected of involvement in the attacks.

“We are preparing for you a Christmas gift,” a statement released with a new batch of leaks at the weekend said. “The gift will be larger quantities of data. And it will be more interesting.

“The gift will surely give you much more pleasure and put Sony Pictures into the worst state.”

The hacks have seen the release of embarrassing emails from Sony Pictures executives with comments about celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Leonardo di Caprio.

But to be spared further embarrassment, the group said, Sony Pictures employees can ask for their data to be taken out of the next batch.

“We have a plan to release emails and privacy of the Sony Pictures employees,” the group said in its ‘Message to SPE Staffers’. If you don’t want your privacy to be released, tell us your name and business title to take off your data.”

Sony has been crippled by the attack which begun on November 24, when hackers broke into the company’s network and posted a mysterious message on computers, making reference to demands. Hackers have since released eight batches of data on employees and celebrities — though the people behind the group, as well as their requests, have not been revealed.

A lawyer working for Sony Pictures has told news organisations that they should delete any data acquired from the hacks, in a strongly-worded letter reported by the New York Times.

In the letter, Boies writes that the leak is part of “"an on-going campaign explicitly seeking to prevent SPE from distributing a motion picture," and the leaks are to harm Sony Pictures unless it withdraws the film from distribution. That film is thought to be The Interview — which if true would lend credence to the rumours of North Korean involvement in the cyber-attack.

The studio “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use” of the information, lawyer David Boies, who has been hired by Sony, wrote to news organisations.

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