Sony zeroing in on North Korea as it investigates cyberattack

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Sony Pictures executives are zeroing in on North Korea as the source of the cyberattack that crippled its computer systems last week, according to people at the company.

But the company is not yet prepared to publicly name North Korea or any other entity, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The company may make an announcement about its investigation into the hacking attack later this week.

Underscoring the severity of the attack and the geopolitical ramifications, one senior Sony employee matter-of-factly called the hacking “a terrorist attack.”

Re/code reported earlier Wednesday that the Sony announcement “will officially name North Korea as the source” and could come as early as Wednesday afternoon. Sony subsequently said in a statement that the “Re/code story is not accurate.”

A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment further.

Sony and the security company it has retained to investigate the attack, Mandiant, have also pursued other possible culprits, including former employees.

But North Korea was identified as a possibility early on, partly because Sony is preparing to release a comedy called “The Interview” that entails a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. North Korean officials have publicly condemned the film and warned of unspecified consequences for releasing it.

The intrusions into Sony’s computer systems were widespread and, as depicted by employees, devastating. Computers and corporate email accounts were rendered useless for several days. Sensitive documents, like spreadsheets of employee salaries, were pilfered and leaked to journalists. Several Sony films — like the upcoming remake of the musical “Annie” and Brad Pitt’s “Fury” — were posted to illicit web sites.

By Brian Stelter and Frank Pallotta

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