Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai speaks out on 'vicious' cyberattack

Sony CEO breaks silence on cyberattack, calling hacking that crippled the studio 'vicious' and 'malicious'

Sony Corp. President and Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai broke his silence on the cyberattack that crippled the company's film and television studio, calling the hacking "vicious" and "malicious." 

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the executive hailed those who stood up against "the extortionist efforts from the criminals that actually attacked Sony Pictures and its employees." 

Sony Pictures Entertainment released its controversial film "The Interview" in the face of a devastating cyberattack by the so-called Guardians of Peace.

The U.S. government has said the North Korean government orchestrated the attack to halt the release of the film, which depicts a fictional assassination attempt on the rogue state's leader Kim Jong Un. 

The studio scrambled to get the movie released through digital video on-demand services, after major cinema chains declined to screen the movie. The Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy is now available through outlets including YouTube Movies, iTunes, and cable and satellite VOD platforms. It's also playing in 580 independent theaters. 

"Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association -- those are very important lifelines of Sony and our entertainment business," Hirai said. 

He went on to thank the companies who helped release the movie, those in the media who supported the launch, and, "most importantly, the people who have gone out to see the movie." 

Hirai opened his statements with a joke, thanking audiences for going to see a "great Sony movie" over the holidays -- the musical remake "Annie." 

Times staff writer Paresh Dave contributed to this report. 

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