The hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment entered a new and potentially dangerous phase as someone claiming to be the leader of a hacking group threatened employees and their families in an email message.
“What we have done is so far is only a small part of our further plan,” reads the message received by some Sony Pictures employees, and written in halting English. “Please sign your name to object the false of the company at the email address below if you don’t want to suffer damage. If you don’t, not only you but your family will be in danger.”
Sony Pictures suffered one of the worst cyber attacks in recent memory after intruders made off with 10 terabytes of internal information including salary, social security numbers, passwords, sales plans and four unreleased feature films.
The author of the message claimed to be the leader of the Guardians of Peace, or GOP, the previously unknown group that claimed responsibility for the initial attack. “Many things beyond imagination will happen at many places in the world. … Our agents find themselves act in necessary places.”
A Sony spokesperson issued a short statement: “We understand that some of our employees have received an email claiming to be from GOP. We are aware of the situation and are working with law enforcement.”
The threatening message is the latest in a series of incidents that has unfolded since last Monday when attackers penetrated and crippled the corporate networks of Sony Pictures. Later, these documents were made available to the public on file-sharing sites around the world.
While the source of the attacks has not been identified, an investigation carried out by security consultants working for Sony and by agents with the FBI has focused on the potential that someone working on behalf of North Korea carried out the attack in reaction to a forthcoming movie that makes fun of that nation’s leader Kim Jong-Un. Other theories have included the potential that a disgruntled former employee may have been involved in the attack.
The attack is in many ways unlike other hacking attacks against large corporations in recent memory, most of which have been rooted in a financial motive. This attack appears to be far more malicious.
In this case, the hackers seem determined to simply wreak as much havoc and damage as possible. Among other objectives, the latest email included this phrase: “Removing Sony Pictures on earth.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.