Attack could cost Sony half a billion dollars: Experts

Attack could cost Sony half a billion dollars: Experts

LOS ANGELES - The devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures could see the Hollywood studio lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and incur massive recovery costs, experts say.

The cancellation of "The Interview," which President Barack Obama called a "mistake," has significantly escalated the potential losses of last month's hack, Hemanshu Nigam of the SSP Blue cybersecurity consultancy told AFP.

In all, he said, the crisis would lead to "a loss of income of $500 million."

The film about a fictional CIA plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un angered Pyongyang, which called it a "terrorist act."

On November 24, Sony suffered a cyberattack claimed by a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace (GOP). The FBI blamed the assault on North Korea.

The unprecedented attack paralysed Sony's computer systems and saw five films leaked online, some of them before their theatrical release.

In addition, the personal data of 47,000 staff and other workers were put online along with other confidential documents such as the script for the next James Bond movie.

There was also a series of highly embarrassing emails from Sony bosses.

Costly in time and money

On Wednesday, as the "GOP" threatened to attack movie theatres when the film was due to come out on December 25, most major US theatre chains announced they would not show it.

Within hours, Sony announced it had cancelled the Christmas Day release. With that decision, "the cost has significantly gone up," Nigam said.

Sony initially said it had cancelled all release plans, though on Friday it suggested it was seeking distributors for other platforms, which could see the film released either through video on demand (VoD) or as a DVD.

But Sony's production and distribution costs were estimated at $75 million. To that should be added several hundreds of millions of dollars in unearned revenue, Nigam said.

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