Sony Near Settlement of Hacking Class Action

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Sony has reached a proposed settlement with nine former employees who filed a class action over the studio’s alleged failure to protect against last year’s cyber attack.
     Court papers filed Wednesday notified the court that the former employees would move for a preliminary approval of the proposed settlement by Oct. 19.
     “On Sept. 1, 2015, plaintiffs and Sony Pictures Entertainment reached an agreement in principle to settle all of the claims of the putative class against Sony, subject to final documentation, which will be submitted for the court’s approval,” the parties’ filing said.
     A jury trial was scheduled for Feb. 9, 2016.
     This past June, U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner granted in part Sony’s motion to dismiss claims that North Korean hackers’ data breach compromised past and present employees’ sensitive personal information, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.
     The judge, however, denied the motion as to negligence based on breach of duty to maintain adequate security measures.
     “As a result of Sony’s failure to maintain an adequate security system and timely notify plaintiffs of the breach, plaintiffs suffered the injury,” Klausner wrote.
     After initially making their claims in state court, Michael Corona and eight others filed a federal class action against Sony Pictures Entertainment in March after the massive data breach of Sony’s computers in November 2014.
     The group Guardians of Peace stole almost 100 terabytes of data from Sony, compromising the personal information of 15,000 current and former employees. U.S. officials suspected that North Korea sponsored the attack in response to the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy “The Interview,” about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
     North Korea denied responsibility.
     Sony’s own remediation efforts meant that employees had to buy their own ID protection services and insurance after the attack, Klausner’s order said.
     The plaintiffs’ personal information has been “traded on black market websites and used by identity thieves” after records were posted on file-sharing sites and exchanged on torrent networks, according to the June order.
     “Social security numbers were copied more than 1.1 million times throughout the 601 files stolen from Sony,” Klausner wrote, noting that sensitive information included salary and bank account information, and visa and passport numbers.

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