Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Life is returning to normal for Sony Pictures Entertainment after a computer attack — possibly inspired by an upcoming comedy dealing with North Korea — that crippled the studio early last week, it was reported today.

Some computer systems crucial to Sony’s business operations are finally back online, while employee email access is expected to be back up later in the day, people familiar with the situation told the Los Angeles Times.

But the Culver City unit behind movies such as “The Amazing Spider-Man” is still reeling from the Nov. 24 computer breach that left thousands of employees performing their jobs with pens, paper and fax machines, The Times reported.

“Sony Pictures continues to work through issues related to what was clearly a cyberattack last week,” the studio said in a statement. “The company has restored a number of important services to ensure ongoing business continuity and is working closely with law enforcement officials to investigate the matter.”

The company has been scrambling to repair the damage to its computer system after a hack by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace, according to The Times.

Compounding the company’s woes, the attack also seems to have resulted in the pirating of DVD copies of at least five new and upcoming movies. The films began appearing on file-sharing websites just days after the infiltration, The Times reported.

Among the stolen films are the Brad Pitt World War II drama “Fury,” which is still in theaters, and the upcoming remake of the musical “Annie,” the newspaper reported.

Sony executives have declined to comment on the scale of the attack, but Internet security experts told The Times it exposed the company’s lax computer defenses.

In the aftermath of the attack on Sony, the FBI warned U.S. businesses Monday night that hackers have used malicious software to launch a destructive cyberattack in the United States. Cybersecurity experts quoted in news reports from the nation’s capital said the malicious software described in the FBI’s alert appeared to describe what afflicted Sony.

The technology news site Re/code reported that Sony is trying to determine whether hackers working on behalf of North Korea were responsible for the attack as retribution for the company’s upcoming film “The Interview.”

The movie, which is due to be released in the United States and Canada on Dec. 25, is a comedy about two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In a letter to U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon in June, the North Korean government denounced the film as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war.”

—City News Service

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