December 23, 2014 / 3:13 PM / in 3 years

Top congressional Democrat asks Sony for hack details

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top Democrat on the powerful U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked Sony Pictures Entertainment to hand over details of what he describes as the “devastating cyberattack” recently suffered by the Hollywood studio.

A logo is pictured outside Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California December 19, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

In a letter sent to Sony on Tuesday, Elijah Cummings, the committee’s ranking minority member, said Sony’s “knowledge, information and experience” would help Congress as it examines federal cybersecurity laws and considers whether they need to be tightened to protect government and consumer data.

The FBI has said the cyberattack was connected to the North Korean government, which was upset by Sony’s plan this month to release “The Interview,” a comic movie in which two Americans are recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Last week, Sony canceled the film over security concerns but later said it was still looking for ways to release it. On Monday, Representative Brad Sherman invited the studio to screen it at the U.S. Capitol.

In his letter, Cummings asked Sony to turn over information including detailed descriptions of all data breaches the company has suffered in the past year; the rough number of current and former employees and customers affected by the breaches; and the manner in which victims were notified.

He also sought findings from any related forensic investigations or analyses, as well as assessments as to “why the breaches went undetected for the length of time they did.”

Cummings asked for a description of any improvements to data protection mechanisms it has implemented since the breach, a description of the procedures that govern the company’s relationships with third-party vendors and service providers, and any recommendations on how to improve cybersecurity laws or law enforcement.

He also requested a briefing by Jan. 19 from Sony’s chief information security officer or similar top IT executive.

In his letter, he cited reports indicating that in addition to deploying destructive malware, the hackers stole sensitive information, including unreleased films and the personal information of more than 47,000 current and former employees, including social security numbers and healthcare records.

Sherman, also a Democrat, wrote Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton to say that a screening would demonstrate free speech.

“Everyone is talking about ‘The Interview,'” he said. “I think it’s important for Congress to know, and see, what we are talking about ... Good or bad, Americans should not be deprived of the opportunity to see this movie.”

Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Bill Trott; Editing by Susan Heavey

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