Sundance Film Festival Hit By Cyber Attack Over the Weekend

Media Division | January 23, 2017

Sometimes the reasoning behind cyber attacks can be a mystery.  Some can be done purely for the purpose of inconveniencing a certain organization or business.  That is what appears to have been the case in a recent attack.

Over the weekend, the Sundance Film Festival was hit with a cyber attack that resulted in their box office shutting down for a short period of time.  A tweet from Sundance at the time of the incident stated, “We have been subject to a cyberattack that has shut down our box office. Our artist’s voices will be heard and the show will go on.”  They then posted a follow up tweet stating, “Following the cyberattack, our team is working hard to get our systems back up ASAP. Screenings will take place as planned. #Sundance,” which was then trailed by an update stating their systems were back online. The attack did not have any major detriment to the festival, as the systems were back online within about an hour.  The screening times were not affected at all, being that the systems were restored so quickly.

Who Was Behind the Attack, and Why?

Even though the attack was simply a minor incident, it begs the question of what exactly was achieved by the attack.  The perpetrator of the attack has not yet been identified.  Currently, there are no leads in regard to the attack, nor has any entity stepped up to claim responsibility for it.  The films scheduled for screening the day of the incident were Step, The Hero, Chasing Coral, Mudbound, and The Yellow Birds, and these do not seem reason enough to attack the festival.  A possible reasoning mentioned by IndieWire and Variety, is that it might be related to the Women’s March, a protest against the recently elected President Donald Trump, which was going on in Park City.  Though, this is pure speculation, and if it was directed at this, it would be quite a convoluted and unclear message to hack the festival, as there is no relation.

So, whether there was a message or purpose in this attack, or whether it was purely for the malicious intent of disruption is unclear.  At this time, it does not appear there was any further detriment or damage from the attack aside from disruption, but perhaps more may be discovered later.

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