UPDATED: On the day Sony cancels the release of The Interview, Screen charts the timeline of events in the hacking crisis.
Monday, 24 November
It is revealed that Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has been subject to hacking. The studio temporarily bans some staff from using their computers.
A group calling itself #GOP - Guardians of Peace - claims responsibility for the attack. The group claims: “We’ve obtained all your internal data including your secrets”, and threatens to release the data if the company fails to comply with its terms.
Tuesday, 25 November
A spokesperson for SPE, Jean Guerin, comments: “Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced a system disruption, which we are working diligently to resolve.”
Thursday, 27 November
Some of Sony’s new and upcoming films, which have been acquired by hackers, begin appearing on peer-to-peer sharing websites.
Saturday, 29 November
It is reported that Sony is investigating a link between the hackers and North Korea.
Links are drawn to SPE’s upcoming film The Interview, in which two celebrity journalists get an interview with Kim Jong-un and are instructed by the CIA to assassinate him.
In June 2014 the executive director of the Centre for Korean-American Peace, Kim Myong-Chol, had spoken critically about the film: “There is a special irony in the storyline as it shows the desperation of the US government”.
Sunday, 30 November
It is discovered that at least five new Sony films have been put online, including Annie, Mr Turner and Fury.
The latter is downloaded nearly a million times within three days, according to the piracy-tracking company Excipio. The Interview (which premiered on Dec 11) has not been leaked.
Sony calls the theft “a criminal matter” in a statement.
Monday, 1 December
The FBI joins the investigation, saying in a statement: “The targeting of public and private sector computer networks remains a significant threat, and the FBI will continue to identify, pursue, and defeat individuals and groups who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
On the same day, the salaries of 6,000 SPE employees, including those of 17 executives earning salaries of more than $1m, are leaked in a spreadsheet. It includes personal details including home addresses.
Tuesday, 2 December
SPE offers identity-theft protection and credit monitoring services to staff whose data has been made public.
Thursday, 4 December
Seth Rogen and James Franco’s paychecks for The Interview are revealed. Several embarrassing comments made by Sony employees are also leaked.
Friday, 5 December
Sony employees receive emails from the hackers threatening them and their families if they fail to sign an objection to SPE.
Sunday, 7 December
North Korea denies any involvement in the Sony hack, but calls it “a righteous deed.”
Monday, 8 December
A message from GOP appears on GitHub denying involvement in the threatening email sent on 5 December. It also says: “Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War!”
The message has been linked to the release of The Interview. Sony Pictures announces that no press interviews will be allowed at the premiere of the film.
That evening, SPE’s CEO sent out a memo to staff whose details had been made public. It said: “The bottom line is that this was an unparalleled and well planned crime, carried out by an organized group, for which neither SPE nor other companies could have been fully prepared.”
Tuesday, 9 December
More personal information leaked, including aliases used by celebrities when booking services, and the inboxes of SPE executives Steven Mosko and co-chairman Amy Pascal.
Wednesday, 10 December
Leaks of Sony emails reveal several embarrassing exchanges, including between Sony head Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, with subjects including Angelina Jolie, Michael Fassbender and President Obama.
Thursday, 11 December
Sony is reportedly attempting to prevent further illegal downloads of its films by using denial of service attacks – sometimes used as a hacking technique – on torrent sites where pirated Sony films are available.
Pascal and Rudin both issue apologies for the content of their leaked emails. Pascal says: “Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”
Business Insider has estimated that the hacking saga could cost Sony about $100m (£63.8m).
Sunday, 14 December
Aaron Sorkin writes an article for the New York Times commenting on the hacking crisis: “Every news outlet that did the bidding of the Guardians of Peace is morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable.”
Tuesday, 16 December
The New York premiere of The Interview, due to take place on Thursday 18 December, is cancelled after threats are issued to the public by GOP via Pastebin.
Wednesday, 17 December
US chain Carmike Cinemas, which operates 278 cinemas across 41 states, drops The Interview. Homeland security says there is “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters” as it continues to analyse the GOP messages.
In an interview, Obama says: “The cyberattack is very serious. We’re investigating it. If we see something that we think is serious and credible, then we’ll alert the public. But for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”
Subsequently, Sony cancels the release of The Interview after Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cineplex Entertainment and Cinemark join Carmike in refusing to show the film.
The company releases a statement, saying: “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release.
“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie.”