LOS ANGELES – The Sony hacking nightmare is getting darker by the day – with the fallout expected to continue for some time.
According to several former employees who had their private details disclosed online last week, the company’s response has been unacceptable, and a class-action lawsuit is brewing.
“Employees are currently investigating class action options as it seems there was reason to believe there was gross negligence on behalf of the company. We’re all worried about our identities, privacy and our families and Sony so far hasn’t done much to address the situation,” one former Sony worker, whose passport, visa, social security number and contracts, have all been leaked, told FOX411. “Sony has not contacted ex-employees directly and we have been frustrated with the slow response from them. We’ve also largely been left in the dark about the matter.”
Another long-term employee, who left Sony earlier this year, concurred that class action suits are coming and that many persons have already been contacted by a major law firm. Former employees have also started a private Facebook group – that now counts more than 2,000 members – which enables them to exchange updates and advice. The former employee also claims that the company has failed to be proactive and “decided to make it the responsibility of former employees to reach them,” and claims phone calls and emails to Sony have still not been returned.
“Others have received automated replies stating that they were working on confirming the former employees’ identity, but I’m not sure what this means,” noted the ex-employee. “The studio has told current employees that they’ll cover one year of ID protection, presumably they will include former employees too. Unless the Internet disappears over the next 12 months, it amounts to nothing. This is something we’ll all be dealing with now for the rest of our lives.”
According to California attorney Leo Terrell of CleartheCourt.com, the basis of a potential suit will depend on the nature of the claims and if Sony acts negligently regarding the hacking.
“We don’t have knowledge right now as to whether or not Sony could have avoided this problem, or their (policies) were sloppy which allowed the hacking to occur,” Terrell said. “Sony is under obligation now to protect the privacy rights of their employees as well as stars. The hackers have promised more damage.”
While many former workers are expressing their frustrations, it seems Sony is taking steps to keep current employees in the loop. FOX411 obtained a memo sent to current employees from Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment on Monday addressing the “highly sophisticated attack” and assuring all that the FBI has dedicated its senior staff to this investigation.
“In the next day or so, your leadership teams will be arranging in-person meetings where they will share the latest developments. Additionally the FBI will be on-hand Wednesday, December 10 in Culver City for employee cybersecurity awareness briefings,” the memo continued. “Finally, on Friday, we will have an ‘All-Hands’ meeting on the Lot in order to brief everyone. For those of you not in Culver City, we will make a video of the meeting available to all employees.”
Jason Glassberg, co-founder of Casaba Security and an ethical hacker routinely hired to break into the networks of Fortune 500 companies and major banks, as well as work with Asian businesses and Hollywood studios, said that Sony may have lost upwards of 100 terabytes of data – but to-date only 40 gigabytes has been unveiled.
“The hits keep coming and coming and show no sign of slowing, so there will definitely be more bad news ahead. This is an attack of historic proportions,” Glassberg said. “Whoever did this wanted Sony to suffer, and suffer big time. They were not out to steal for profit. They were out to destroy.”
The entertainment and electronics conglomerate endured another blow Monday morning, with its PlayStation store suddenly becoming inaccessible to a number of users. The Tokyo-based computer entertainment division didn’t refer to the incident as a hack, but said the matter was being investigated.
It has been broadly speculated that North Korea is behind the mass hack because Sony is preparing to release the James Franco/Seth Rogan film “The Interview” which satirizes the nation’s leader Kim Jong-un. However, in a statement over the weekend North Korean officials denied responsibility for the attack, indicating that it may have been orchestrated by an individual or group in support of the country.
Conservative estimates suggest that Sony has lost around $170 million in revenue from the security breach, with tens of millions being lost with each passing day, particularly with the dissemination of stolen versions of key holiday films and the high possibility that stars will back away from the studio for future projects over security concerns.
“Lawyers, accountants and business managers will demand from Sony additional safeguards to protect their clients’ privacy rights,” Terrell noted.
Sony did not respond to a request for comment.
But experts caution that it is not just other movie studios now need to be on high alert in the wake of the hack, but all U.S. businesses.
“The cyber-attack is an incredibly important weapon going forward,” Glassberg added. “Most of the time, cyber-attacks are definitely economic warfare.”