On November 24, 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment became aware that its company's computer systems had been hacked by a group known as the "Guardians of Peace." In the following weeks, Sony had five of its movies (four of which had not yet been released in theaters) uploaded to file-sharing websites, personal emails from company executives criticizing public figures published, and the confidential medical records of employees released, Additionally, the company received a terror threat surrounding the premiere of The Interview, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen.
Subsequently, Sony cancelled the release of The Interview. (At the time of this writing, the hack has been linked to North Korea, whose government disapproved of the films ending). The full extent of the confidential and personal information obtained about Sony employees is unknown. A full timeline of the hack's aftermath can be found here.
Sony Pictures Entertainment's security breach highlights the increasing importance of a business' cyber security in today's world. Such a cyber attack exposes a business to immense liability concerns. In fact, a class action lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of 15,000 Sony employees who had private information (such as social security numbers) released. A particularly scathing IT assessment conducted by Sony several months prior to the hacking is likely to play a central role in that litigation, as it is arguably evidence of the company's knowledge of cyber security weaknesses. So what can businesses do to protect themselves against some of the legal backlash from such attacks?
Following these four suggestions will aid a business in limiting its liability should a security breach occur. Hopefully, your business is never breached like Sony Pictures Entertainment was.
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