Sony executive Amy Pascal steps down following cyberattack, email exposure

Sony's Amy Pascal has resigned as co-chair of the company following a disastrous cyberattack which cost the company dearly both financially and in reputation.

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Sony executive Amy Pascal has stepped down from her post following a cyberattack on the firm's servers believed to originate from North Korea.

The Sony co-chairman, whose private email exchanges were released online as part of the attack, has chosen to leave her post to launch a production company later this year. Sony will fund the executive's production company for four years and retain content distribution rights.

No immediate successor to Pacal's position has been revealed.

The Guardians of Peace (GOP) are believed to be responsible for the cyberattack, which took place in November last year.

The attack not only resulted in the public defacement of Sony web domains, but included network intrusion and damage, the release of films online -- before official screening dates -- and most critically, vast treasure troves of data leaked online. The data, which was released in batches by GOP as "Christmas presents," included the sensitive information of employees and actors and personal emails sent by Sony executives.

Pascal's email inbox was among those leaked online. In conversations between Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, actress Angelina Jolie was dubbed a "minimally talented spoilt brat," and remarks over US President Obama's favorite films based on his race were made.

The former Sony executive, the only woman to head a Hollywood studio, was forced to apologize, and described the theft as a "malicious criminal act."

According to the BBC, the 56-year-old said in a statement:

"I have spent almost my entire professional life at Sony Pictures and I am energized to be starting this new chapter based at the company I call home."

In addition, Pascal said the move had been in the works "for some time."

According to analysis conducted by Kaspersky and other researchers, the malware launched against Sony bears resemblance to the "DarkSeoul" malware, but the "Shamoon" wiper malicious code that struck Saudi Aramco in 2012.

Sony has condemned the attack, which led to the decision to delay screenings of The Interview. The comedy film, which follows the story of journalists enlisted by the CIA to assassinate North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, was pulled from its planned release. However, Sony later launched the film online and permitted viewings in selected cinemas -- and it is now showing in cinemas across the United Kingdom.

North Korea's protests to the United Nations concerning The Interview were ignored, and it is believed GOP originates from the country.

According to Sony, the hack has cost the firm $15 million so far in "investigation and remediation costs." However, the tech and media giant also said within its fiscal third-quarter preliminary earnings that the overall impact of the cyberattack will not be apparent for the full fiscal year.

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