Sony boss Kazuo Hirai has broken his silence on the devastating hack that wreaked havoc at Sony Pictures last month.
Delivering his keynote at CES in Las Vegas on Monday night, Hirai said former and current employees at Sony Pictures had been the victims of “one of the most vicious and malicious cyberattacks we have known in recent history.”
He said he was “proud” of Sony workers – and others caught up in the hack – for having “stood up against the extortionate effort of these criminals.”
The cyberattack, news of which first surfaced at the end of November, saw a group calling itself Guardians of Peace infiltrate Sony Pictures computer systems, stealing masses of sensitive data in the process.
As the group went about posting much of the stolen material online, it demanded Sony cancel the Christmas Day release of The Interview, a Seth Rogen comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Several days before its planned release, a message apparently coming from the group hinted at a violence response if Sony went ahead with the release. As a consequence, movie theaters abandoned plans to screen the film, leading Sony to say it had “no further release plans” for the film.
However, widespread criticism of Sony’s decision, which included some harsh words from President Obama, led the studio to strike deals with a limited number of theaters, as well as online services, to get the movie shown.
North Korea has repeatedly denied any direct involvement in the attack, though U.S. intelligence officials claim to have evidence indicating otherwise. As a result, Obama’s administration last week imposed fresh sanctions on the country.
Hirai, speaking publicly for the first time about the incident, said that “freedom of speech [and] freedom of expression” were “important lifelines of Sony and our entertainment business,” before going on to thank partners who’d helped organize the Christmas release of The Interview, as well as those who ventured out to theaters to watch it.