The cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment originated from the elegant St. Regis Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, on 1 December, according to investigators.
Around 12.25am on 2 December in Bangkok (1 December in California), the hackers began leaking confidential Sony data to the Internet via the high-speed network at the St. Regis, Bloomberg reports.
An individual familiar with the investigations said that it was unclear whether the hackers used the Internet from a public area in the hotel or from a separate location. The investigators are also not sure if the hackers stayed at the resort or merely used their business centre.
Regardless, the entire world is now privy to the personal details of 47,000 Sony employees, former employees and freelancers, along with that of many Hollywood celebrities including actor Sylvester Stallone and producer Judd Apatow by the time they were done.
The hack is seen as one that heralds a new and highly dangerous era of cyber security. The entertainment wing of Sony is still reeling from the hack and trying hard to contain the damage caused by the expose.
While who exactly hacked Sony remains unclear, it appears to have been designed to embarrass Sony.
Initially, it was widely believed that the autocratic regime of North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong-un was behind the hacking. A spokesman of the National Defence Commission (supreme leader Kim Jong-un's top governing agency in Pyongyang) denied any involvement, but said that it was a "righteous act" and applauded whoever did it.
North Korea's involvement in the hacking was primarily suspected because of Sony Pictures' upcoming film "The Interview", starring James Franco and Seth Rogen. North Korea had expressed its displeasure regarding the movie many times and reiterated it while disassociating itself from the hacking.
"SONY Pictures is the very one which was going to produce a film abetting a terrorist act while hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) by taking advantage of the hostile policy of the U.S. administration towards the DPRK," the spokesman said.
The Thai connection, which was not suspected earlier, allowed cyber security investigators to trace the hackers' digital footprints to the network at the St. Regis Bangkok hotel located on Rajadmari Road. An Internet Protocol address the malware used to communicate with the hackers was also located at a university in Thailand.
The data disclosed by the hackers include salaries, Social Security numbers, home addresses and contracts of people who work with Sony and those who left as far back as 2000.