Sony uses hacker techniques to fight back over stolen data

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Sony Pictures is employing hacking techniques in an attempt to prevent computer users from downloading its stolen data from file-sharing websites, according to reports.

Technology site Recode claims the movie studio is using Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing platform that underpins Netflix, Amazon’s store and other streaming and retail brands. The AWS platform provides access to hundreds of computers located in Asia, which Sony is allegedly using to bombard sites where its stolen data is being made available.

The method is called a distributed denial of service (ddos) attack, which attempts to overload the websites of the target and prevent internet users from accessing it.

Hacked turned hackers

DDoS is a technique commonly used by hackers to sabotage company services, but has also been used by movie studios attempting to prevent people downloading pirated versions of films from file sharing sites.

“The AWS acceptable usage policy explicitly prohibits initiating denial of service attacks from their service; it’s unlikely that Amazon would let this activity continue,” said Tim Erlin, director of security and risk at Tripwire. “Taking the step to ‘hack back’ against perceived legitimate targets, based on their own assessment of guilt, presents a myriad of potential legal problems.”

The confidential data stolen in the attack includes five Sony Pictures films, all the users names and passwords for Sony Pictures Twitter and Facebook accounts and pay details for top executives and movie stars.

Entire email archives of several key Sony employees were also included in the leak, which has sparked rows within Hollywood after heated private exchanges have been made public.

Sony has not confirmed the validity of the files leaked onto the internet, and has not yet responded to requests for comment.

The attack, which crippled the computers of Sony Pictures across its US and international offices, has been linked with North Korea over the release of Seth Rogan’s new film The Interview that depicts an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation recently stated that it has found no link with North Korea. The country denied involvement, but called the hack a “righteous deed” after previously threatening “merciless counter-measures” should Sony Pictures release The Interview.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Thursday 11th December 2014 11.16 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010