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Hacked Sony emails reveal that Sony had pirated books about hacking

Oh, the irony.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Apr 17, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 1:21 am CDT

Sony doesn’t like pirates—except, perhaps, when Sony feels like pirating.

Hacked Sony Pictures Entertainment emails, published in full on Thursday by WikiLeaks, reveal that Sony had pirated ebooks on its servers. This is particularly notable because Sony has engaged in aggressive and even illegal anti-piracy actions in the past.

Here’s another dose of irony for you: The books are educational tomes about hacking, exactly the subject that Sony would now like to be thoroughly educated in since last year’s hacks put all this information into the public sphere.

Author Jeffrey Carr’s Inside Cyber Warfare is a classic of the information-security genre that’s been widely read and widely copied. Some of those readers and copiers work within Sony, it was revealed yesterday when WikiLeaks published their searchable version of the Sony archives. Both the PDF and TXT files are available.

Meanwhile, Sony was thinking of new ways to combat piracy including, the leaked emails reveal, putting out fake torrents on sites like Pirate Bay as part of their anti-piracy strategy.

The torrents would be disguised as Sony television shows, in this case Hannibal, but would actually be 60-second public service announcements urging users to watch the show legally.

The idea was nixed.

“Forget about a site blocking strategy if we start putting legitimate PSAs or promos on sites we’ve flagged to governments as  having no legitimate purpose other than theft… PSAs being for public good, etc…,” Sony executive vice president Keith Weaver wrote.

Later on, another Sony executive vice president, Amiee Wolfson, celebrated the arrest of a Pirate Bay founder as a “huge win” though she worried if hackers would retaliate.

Carr’s book isn’t alone.

Hacking the Next Generation, another book on information security from the same publisher (O’Reilly), can be found in full PDF format on Sony’s servers.

O’Reilly did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication, and Sony declined to respond.

For what it’s worth, both books are definitely worth a read. 

Book cover via Inside Cyber Warfare/O’Reilly

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*First Published: Apr 17, 2015, 2:46 pm CDT