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Sony hacks were 'extortionist efforts by criminals who attacked us': CEO

But the company’s boss didn’t make any mention of North Korea in his first public comments about the cyber attacks.

Updated at 1.45pm

SONY’S BOSS HAS hit out at the “vicious and malicious” cyber attacks which led to the US government imposing fresh sanctions on North Korea.

In his first public comments since the damaging hacks over a month ago, chief executive Kazuo Hirai said the company was “proud of partners who stood up against extortionist efforts by criminals who attacked Sony”.

Sensitive employee details, emails and a trove of previously-unreleased films have been leaked since the attacks, which has been blamed on North Korea.

They were seen as retaliation for Sony’s planned release of a Seth Rogen film, The Interview, depicting a fictional plot to assassinate the hermit kingdom’s leader, Kim Jong-Un.

The company initially pulled the release following further threats, but it eventually decided to release the film online and in some cinemas after coming under fire for its back-down.

Hirai said Sony workers had been “victims of one of the most vicious and malicious cyber attacks we have known, certainly in recent history”.

Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association — those are important lifelines of Sony and our entertainment business,” he said.

Gadget Show Sony Sony chief executive Kazuo Hirai Jae C. Hong / AP/Press Association Images Jae C. Hong / AP/Press Association Images / AP/Press Association Images

No mention for North Korea

But Hirai didn’t single out North Korea for responsibility in his speech, despite the US government ordering new financial sanctions last week against key people in the reclusive state over its “destructive, coercive cyber-related actions”.

A group calling itself “Guardians of Peace” has claimed responsibility for the data breaches while North Korean officials have denied being behind the attacks – although they have praised the hackers’ work.

Security analysts have said the anti-Sony offensive was more likely the work of disgruntled former employees with intimate knowledge of the Japanese company’s systems.

The leaks included a series of messages between Hirai and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Paschal which revealed the company’s boss asked for The Interview to include a toned-down version of a death scene involving Kim.

He asked the studio executive to make sure an image of the North Korean leader’s face exploding didn’t make it into the international release of the film.

- With AFP

READ: US imposes financial sanctions on North Korea over Sony hack >

READ: Hacking, war and talks with South Korea… Kim Jong Un gave a New Year’s Day speech >

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