Hollywood closes ranks with Sony over cyber attack, presses Washington for protection

Hollywood filmmakers urged US authorities on Friday to do more to protect against cyber attacks, and sought to close ranks with Sony after a massive hacking assault blamed on North Korea. -- PHOTO: AFP
Hollywood filmmakers urged US authorities on Friday to do more to protect against cyber attacks, and sought to close ranks with Sony after a massive hacking assault blamed on North Korea. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Hollywood filmmakers urged US authorities on Friday to do more to protect against cyber attacks, and sought to close ranks with Sony after a massive hacking assault blamed on North Korea.

As US President Barack Obama said he thought Sony had made a "mistake" in cancelling the The Interview, the Directors Guild of America said the online attack showed the chilling power of cyber criminals.

"We stand by our (The Interview) director members Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and hope that a way can be found to distribute the film by some means, to demonstrate that our industry is not cowed by extremists of any type," said DGA chief Paris Barclay.

In a new piece of bad news for embattled Sony, Mr Obama said that while he had sympathy for the studio, it was wrong to cancel the Dec 25 release date for The Interview.

"I'm sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake," he told reporters in Washington.

A Sony spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for reaction to Mr Obama's comments.

But the DGA chief said: "As the events of the past weeks have made painfully clear, we are now living in an age in which the Internet can enable a few remote cyber criminals to hold an entire industry hostage."

The hack illustrated "the heightened need for the federal government to increase its efforts to protect our society against cyber crimes, terrorism and all of its implications," he added.

"We hope that instead of the 'chilling effect' on controversial content, this incident becomes a rallying point for all of us who care about freedom of expression to come together and champion this inalienable right."

Sony's The Interview recounts a fictional CIA plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

Hackers launched a massive cyber attack on the studio on Nov 24, followed by a series of threats, including earlier this week invoking the Sept 11 attacks.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had evidence that Pyongyang was behind the attack, although North Korea's mission to the United Nations almost immediately denied it.