Sony
North Korea says it did not hack Sony PicturesReuters

North Korea has denied it was responsible for the hacking of Sony Pictures, dismissing claims it was behind the cyberattack as a fabrication.

The denial, from a Pyongyang diplomat in New York, comes just hours after Sony Pictures refused to identify North Korea as the origin of the attack, which saw financial and personal information relating to its employees stolen and shared online.

"Linking [North Korea] to the Sony hacking is another fabrication targeting the country," the official, who asked to be kept anonymous, told US broadcaster Voice of America, adding: "My country publicly declared that it would follow international norms banning hacking and piracy."

As well as numerous sensitive documents, the hack also saw several new and unreleased films leaked onto file-sharing websites, as well as widespread disruption to Sony Pictures' global computer network and email server.

There has been speculation that North Korea, allegedly using hackers based in China, has broken into Sony Pictures' computer system in retaliation for the release of The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco about a fictitious plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The country has previously vowed to "mercilessly destroy" anyone associated with the film, and sent a letter to the White House, asking President Obama to stop the film and calling its distribution an "undisguised sponsoring of terrorism." The Interview is due to be released in 60 countries, including the US, on Christmas Day.

Reports earlier this week suggested Sony was going to name North Korea as the source of the attack, but Sony poured cold water on these claims in a statement given to the AFP news agency, which said they were "not accurate" and that "the investigation continues into this very sophisticated cyberattack."

Sony has confirmed that a memo, published online and sent to staff by Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal, who head up Sony Pictures, is real. The memo said the pair are "deeply saddened" by the "brazen" attack.

Lynton and Pascal added that employees are to assume that their personal data has been compromised, and that everyone affected will be offered identity protection with third-party provider, AllClear ID.

"It is now apparent that a large amount of confidential Sony Pictures Entertainment data has been stolen by the cyber attackers, including personnel information and business documents. The privacy and security of our employees are of real concern to us, and we are deeply saddened at this concerted effort to do damage to our company, undermine our morale, and discourage us."

The hack was first noticed by Sony on 24 November when an image showing a skeleton and the message "Hacked by #GOP" was shown on every computer in Sony Pictures' New York office.

The message added: "We've already warned you, and this is just a beginning. We continue till our request be met. We've obtained all your internal data including your secrets and top secrets."

A Sony source told Deadline on the day of the attack: "We are down, completely paralyzed," while a Sony Pictures spokesperson told several publications: "We are investigating an IT matter."