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Arts & Entertainment

Sony hack: After 3 months, employees still deal with frozen credit, work disruptions




The entrance of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California is seen December 16, 2014.
The entrance of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California is seen December 16, 2014.
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Three months after the massive hack that disabled Sony Pictures Entertainment's computers, employees tell Take Two that they are still feeling the impact.

Past and present employees — who agreed to speak with Take Two only if we protected their identities out of fear of losing their jobs — recounted a litany of problems:

In the days after the hack, embarrassing emails between studio executives surfaced online, along with the personal details of almost 4,000 employees. 

And on Thursday this week, Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal stepped down in the wake of the data breach, as was widely expected; she'll stay with the company as an independent producer. 

Still reeling from the hack

Past and present employees say they're still feeling the impact of the hack in the office and their personal lives. 

"I had four accounts opened with Allied Bank," one employee said. "It was three IRA accounts and one savings account. There was an attempt to open a Toys R Us credit card, a Visa credit card application and a MasterCard." 

The source has been forced to freeze her credit, right in the middle of a search for a new place to live. She's also concerned about her taxes and what hackers may do with her details. 

“We just got a note from corporate," she said, adding: "You need to file your taxes really early because, ... since your social [security number's] out there, someone can try and file their taxes using your social so that in case there is a return, they’ll receive it."

Sony has provided staff members with an identity monitoring service called All Clear, which lets them know if their personal information has been leaked online. Our source told Take Two that the company has been supportive of employees. 

“They had FBI agents come, and conferences and meetings, and even HR has been really helpful," she said. "Even the people I work with will tell me, 'If you need to go take care of something, go leave; don’t worry about it. Take the day off.'"

Workflow issues

Workflow issues have come up in the weeks after the data breach, too. The computers in entire departments have been replaced; employees have delayed leave; and there have been problems with the Internet on production shoots. 

In some cases, according to one source, the Internet was swapped out for what seemed like a slower, less reliable connection.

“Sony gave us an alternate Internet," the source said. "And every now and then, out of nowhere, it will go down. ... Things would halt because of that. If we had to send out a calendar or a schedule, halted.”

As a workaround, production teams have been setting up mobile hotspots and running some projects on cell phone networks.

But those hotspots are finicky, expensive and need to be constantly monitored, which just adds more problems to a system that's already having a lot of trouble.

“It has slowed things down, and it has cost money. It has caused frustration on a set, which is already naturally just a very tense place because ... it's a well-oiled machine. When something like this goes wrong that shouldn’t go wrong, it creates all this weird tension.”

The source doesn’t know when these issues will be fixed, but others at Sony are saying that things are slowly returning to normal.

If you work in the entertainment industry and would like to chat, we're always looking for sources to talk. Send me an email at JMargolis@scpr.org. I can also communicate via encrypted email.