Sony Pictures is hacking its hackers to stop embarrassing emails getting out

Technique was previously used to stop distribution of pirated films, until file sharing sites became more sophisticated

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The Independent Tech

Sony Pictures have turned its hackers’ tools on themselves — using a cyber-attack technique to try and stop the distribution of embarrassing files leaked by hackers.

The company is using hundreds of computers in Asia to carry out a distributed denial of service attack, where servers become overwhelmed by the number of requests from other computers, to slow down those users that are sharing the data, according to Re/Code.

The process entails computers putting in bogus requests to download the files, which slows down the downloading of the files for those that genuinely want to get to them.

Re/Code said that Sony is using Amazon Web Services (AWS), the online retailer’s cloud computing firm, to carry out the attack. But the company denied it was being used to The Independent, which it described as misuse.

“AWS employs a number of automated detection and mitigation techniques to prevent the misuse of our services," said an AWS spokesperson. "In cases where the misuse is not detected and stopped by the automated measures, we take manual action as soon as we become aware of any misuse.

"Our terms are clear about this. The activity being reported is not currently happening on AWS.”

It mirrors a technique once used to slow down the distribution of pirated music and films — but now the files at stake are films leaked from their own servers as well as more embarrassing data.

The company has been trying to deal with the impact of what has been said to be the biggest corporate hack in history since it began weeks ago. Leaked emails have included embarrassing details such as Sony Pictures executives’ complaints about Angelina Jolie, as well as more damaging data like employees’ personal details and social security numbers.

New releases of data have become semi-regular, with the latest being made available earlier this week.

Those behind the attack are still yet to be identified, leading some to speculate that North Korea might have been involved in the attack.

Sony Pictures declined to comment to Re/Code.

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