Wikileaks publishes hacked Sony emails, documents

Thousands of documents are included in a searchable archive

Wikileaks has published a searchable database of thousands of emails and documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment that were leaked in late 2014 after the studio was attacked by hackers.

The database is the first time the information, which made up one of the largest and more serious breaches in U.S. corporate history, has been so easily accessible to a wide audience and is likely to raise new concerns about the use of stolen information online.

It's made up of 173,132 emails and 30,287 documents, including some that contain highly personal information about Sony employees including home addresses, personal phone numbers and social security numbers.

After hackers attacked Sony Pictures in November 2014, they released the documents onto file-sharing sites and Bit Torrent. The files there were several gigabytes in size and packaged as archives of computer directories or Microsoft Outlook files, which meant they were difficult to casually access.

It was largely reporters who went through the files, discovering emails between the top executives at Sony that ranged from the mundane to the scandalous. Their publication of stories based on the documents prompted warnings from lawyers representing Sony Pictures.

But a month later, the story had moved on. President Barack Obama accused the North Korean government of being behind the hack and, with the approaching year-end holidays, stories based on the emails and documents ended.

Wikileaks apparently hopes its publication will spark a new round of reporting and examination.

In a news release announcing publication of the database on Thursday, the organization said it shines a light on "the inner workings of a large, secretive multinational corporation."

"The work publicly known from Sony is to produce entertainment; however, The Sony Archives show that behind the scenes this is an influential corporation, with ties to the White House, an ability to impact laws and policies, and connections to the US military-industrial complex," the site said.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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