Sony’s chief exec Kazuo Hirai has predicted no major financial impact on the entertainment conglomerate after the recent cyber-attack on its Sony Pictures movie studio division.
"We are still reviewing the effects of the cyber attack," Hirai told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Reuters reports. "However, I do not see it as something that will cause a material upheaval on Sony Pictures business operations, basically, in terms of results for the current fiscal year."
Hirai also praised staff at Sony's Hollywood movie studio for standing up to the "extortionist efforts" of hackers during his first public comments on the attack. He added that he had "signed off" on all major decisions by the company in response to the deep impact attack which crippled computers and led to the disclosure of all manner of sensitive information.
The US government blames North Korea for the attack, with the FBI chief James Comey going out of his way to re-emphasise the point on Wednesday. Security experts are largely unconvinced by this argument, offering the alternative explanation that a disgruntled insider teamed up with hacktivist types to launch the assault.
Russ Spitler, VP of product strategy from security tools firm AlienVault, argued it's too early for Sony to assess the financial impact of the crime. Weighing increased return from NORK-baiting spy caper The Interview, which has already pulled in revenues of $36m, against the costs of restoring systems at Sony Pictures underestimates the financial impact, according to Spitler.
“With the breadth and diversity of data taken from Sony, the full impact of this breach will likely not be realised for some time to come," Spitler explained. "In near-term accounting it is easy to evaluate the impact on box office sales for a movie, but the data that is now public has far reaching implications."
"Every single agent in Hollywood has a complete track record of Sony’s behaviour during negotiations; next time Sony wants to sign an A-list actor to a film I am sure the costs will start adding up. The next time Sony looks to lease studio space or negotiate for an onsite shoot, they are back on their heels. People often look to the most easily measurable consequence of a breach such as this, but the long term implications of this will be hard to calculate for a long time to come," Spitler concluded. ®