High-quality copies of still-to-be-released films have been leaked online a week after Sony Pictures Entertainment was reportedly hacked.
The firm was forced to shut down its entire computer network on 25 November 2014 after a cyber attack by a group of hackers identifying themselves only as #GOP or Guardians of Peace.
The group reportedly issued the company with a list of unspecified demands, saying sensitive data would be released if the firm did not co-operate.
Although there is no confirmed link with leaked films, there has been widespread media speculation that digital copies of the films were among the 11TBs of data that was reportedly stolen.
The files are also believed to include sensitive financial data, emails, and personal information relating to cast and crew working on films still in production.
The films leaked on torrent sites and their official US release dates are: To Write Love on Her Arms (March 2015), Still Alice (16 January 2015), Mr Turner (19 December 2014), Annie (19 December 2014), and Fury (17 October 2014), according to Torrentfreak.
More on cyber attacks
- Banks play down cyber attack levels
- Cyber attack hallmarks identified in cross-industry report
- Many firms still unprepared for cyber attack, EY survey shows
- European online transactions under cyber attack, says payment council
- UK is prime target for cyber attacks, says FireEye
- Why are UK micro businesses unprepared for cyber attack?
While little is known about the group calling itself #GOP, Sony Pictures is reportedly investigating whether the recent hack is linked to North Korea.
The company believes the attack may be linked to the film The Interview, which concerns a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to Re/code.
The film, set to be released on 25 December 2014, stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists who plan to interview the North Korean leader and are recruited by the CIA to kill him.
An unofficial spokesperson for North Korea has criticised the film in an interview with The Telegraph saying it "shows the desperation of the US government and American society."
Sony has declined to comment on the breach of its network beyond a statement which said: “Sony Pictures Entertainment experienced a system disruption, which we are working diligently to resolve.”
A statement on the film leaks said: "The theft of Sony Pictures Entertainment content is a criminal matter, and we are working closely with law enforcement to address it."
Sony cyber attacks
The latest confirmed hacker intrusion at Sony comes just three months after Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) was forced offline by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in August 2014.
Sony’s PSN was also taken offline for more than three weeks in 2011 after a hack that compromised the personal information of millions of customers.
Data privacy expert at law firm Eversheds Liz Fitzsimions said the reports of a further attack on Sony demonstrate how cyber criminals are seeking to damage corporate reputations and businesses, causing financial consequences for everyone – whether through the impact on employment prospects, investment returns for pensions or levels of taxation raised by governments.
"Currently, there is heated debate about how law enforcement and intelligence should investigate internet use and communications to catch criminals, due to the impact on law-abiding citizens and their privacy," she said.
“This cyber attack is a reminder that we may have to accept that our right to communicate and use the internet lawfully may carry with it the responsibility of accepting some potential interference where needed to detect and prevent such criminal activity.
“The alternative is we pay the price of having our privacy rights guaranteed by governmental bodies, with a consequential likely increase in abuses by criminals who have no respect for privacy or other legal rights," she added.