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Sony execs call hacking 'malicious criminal acts' in email to employees

Sony's Michael Lynton, Amy Pascal tell employees in email that hacking incidents are 'malicious criminal acts'

In an email to thousands of employees on Tuesday evening, Sony Pictures Entertainment executives Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton said they are "deeply saddened" by the security breach that led to leaked personal employee and company information.

When Sony workers tried to log on to their computers last week, they were greeted with an image of a skeleton accompanied by the text "Hacked By #GOP." The message, which contained multiple threats, appeared to be an attempt to blackmail Sony by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace.

The attack resulted in the pirating of DVD copies of at least five movies, including Brad Pitt's "Fury" and the upcoming musical "Annie."

A spreadsheet allegedly containing personal information of Sony employees -- including several executives' salaries and the Social Security numbers of 3,803 employees -- also surfaced on the Web on Monday. In their memo to about 6,600 employees, Pascal and Lynton essentially confirmed the authenticity of the leaked data.

Aside from several statements issued throughout the week, Sony has for the most part declined to comment on the hacking. But Pascal and Lynton were vocal in their memo to employees, calling the theft and leaks "malicious criminal acts."

"It is now apparent that a large amount of confidential Sony Pictures Entertainment data has been stolen by the cyber attackers, including personnel information and business documents," Pascal and Lynton wrote. "This is the result of a brazen attack on our company, our employees and our business partners."

The executives urged employees to utilize the identity protection services Sony is offering all employees through a third-party service provider.

"While we are not yet sure of the full scope of information that the attackers have or might release, we unfortunately have to ask you to assume that information about you in the possession of the company might be in their possession," Pascal and Lynton wrote.

They also thanked the employees for their "hard work, commitment and resolve."

"We are enormously proud of the resilience you have all shown in the face of this attack," they wrote. "The company is as busy as ever, and our business continues to move forward, thanks to your great efforts."

The FBI confirmed Monday that it is investigating the matter. Sony has also enlisted Mandiant, a cyberforensics unit of the security firm FireEye, to assist in the search for the hackers. 

Deadline first reported the email.

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