I did not plan to watch The Interview. Even if you paid me. But the Sony hacker story affects all of us, even if we never see the yanked movie.
The Sony hacker story has enough twists and turns to make for a good movie itself. You could call it The Blackmail.
The latest scoop is that the hackers are now demanding that all evidence of the existence of the movie The Interview be wiped out or else they'll release more data.
This after the hackers stole terabytes of data from Sony Pictures computers and successfully blackmailed the studio from releasing The Interview in theaters.
All we need to complete our movie plot for The Blackmail is for some hero to nab the bad guys and save the day.
Alas, this is reality and not a movie.
And the reality affects you and me—even if you and I never planned on watching The Interview anyway. Here's how:
1. Sony just validated blackmail and extortion threats on a national/global scale
Hard to believe Barack Obama would ever agree with anything I believe but as I was telling my teen daughter last night that Sony giving in to a blackmail threat was the wrong thing to do, Obama said the same thing today. When you give in, the blackmail process becomes validated as an effective tool. That this blackmail made a multinational corporation like Sony quake in its proverbial boots is even more appalling.
Just as physical crime like mass shootings can create copycat crimes, this hack attack will likely lead to other hackers copying the same formula: break into a network, steal sensitive data and demand something in return. At this point, you almost chuckle that the Sony hackers only demanded that The Interview not be shown (why didn't they do this earlier and demand The Great Gatsby and The Smurfs not be released?). With such supreme leverage, the Sony hackers could have demanded a lot more. But you can probably bet that future hackers won't make similar petty requests.
2. Our national security might be weaker than we think
If Sony honestly believed the hackers' 9/11-style terrorist threats on movie theaters showing The Interview, then we have a serious security problem here on our own soil.
Part of me thinks those threats were baseless or else these hackers would be threatening the United States even without needing to steal sensitive Sony data: simply threaten to bomb theaters, football stadiums, etc. unless a demand is met. It's kinda like that 1994 movie Speed—except without needing the moving bus. They could make these threats all the time and get all kinds of stuff (even ridiculous stuff like demanding Kate Upton marry North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un).
But given the carnage that James Holmes did in 2012 just by shooting inside an Aurora, Colorado theater that was about to show The Dark Knight Rises, Sony probably knew it would be sued if The Interview still played and people died in theaters. Sony likely realizes theaters are not presently equipped to prevent bombs or shootings so they played it safe.
In any event, the hackers' threats showed that the United States is in a poor position to protect people who congregate in large or mass events. That's a little troubling to anyone who likes to go to crowded events.
3. Keep your data off the internet as much as possible
That Sony got hacked shouldn't surprise anyone.
Staples just reported today that over one million customers' credit card data was stolen in October.
Yes, companies are getting hacked all the time. You can bet the number of hack attacks will only increase in the coming years. In fact, don't be surprised if government systems (both state and federal) get hacked in the near future.
Credit card info, social security numbers, and all manner of sensitive data is put on the internet—much of it willingly put there by us. Online buying and registrations continue to be popular so it's hard to resist. But be warned that the hacker motto very well could be "What goes up must come down."
This Sony situation could be messier than anyone thought. I don't have answers. But I do know that this situation is more than just what Sony execs said about actors in some dumb emails. We need to get over the lame gossip and come to grips that something much more serious is happening to our country.
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