How the Hacked Information From Sony Could Affect Its Business

PHOTO: Pedestrians walk past an exterior wall to Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, Calif. on Dec. 4, 2014.PlayFrederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH Stars Bashed in Private Emails Revealed by Sony Hack

The release of information hacked from Sony Corp., the latest of which includes email correspondence among high-level executives, will likely have "disturbing" long-term repercussions for Sony's business, say technology and security experts.

"It's difficult to overstate how bad this actually was," Norman Young, senior equity analyst for Morningstar, said. "The level of intrusion across virtually every single category of their company –- from business to personal information to emails -- is pretty unprecedented."

Leaked emails elicited an apology today from Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Amy Pascal.

"The content of my emails to [producer] Scott [Rudin] were insensitive and inappropriate but are not an accurate reflection of who I am. Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended," Pascal said in the statement.

The more typical targets of corporate hacking are credit numbers or other information for financial gain. But Young said the level of information stolen from Sony was "disturbing." The hack, which included the social security numbers of employees and personal health details, has reportedly caused not only business interruptions, including IT issues and computers and servers that are down, but there are other longer term effects on Sony's business, Young said.

"Externally, a lot of the internal communications and strategy memos will also have long-term repercussions on Sony," Young said. "A lot of the reputations of executives have been damaged with emails slowly trickling out over time."

Sony Corp. is set to release its third quarter earnings early next year.

Rudin also issued a public apology in light of his emails that were leaked.

"Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended. I am deeply sorry and apologize for any injury they might have caused," Rudin said in a statement.

"In every level of this organization, someone was damaged," Young surmised.

Only time will tell how badly it has tarnished Sony's reputation, impacts its bottom line or rises to an "extinction level event" for senior management and data security personnel, said Adam Levin, chairman of IDT911, a company that deals with preventing identity theft and cyber security breaches.

"We all know Hollywood is both cutthroat and snarky, so doubtless these types of conversations are more common than not," Levin told ABC News. But he added, "Without a doubt this entire experience has wounded Sony."

Though the public may forget some of the leaked information, the Hollywood A-listers or current and former employees whose personal data was splashed across computer screens may not, he noted.

"The issue here goes way beyond Sony, beyond the film industry, indeed it relates to corporations around the world," Levin said. "This is a teachable moment -- you can't stop a drone strike with six archers standing on a legacy firewall surrounded only by a moat."