U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he answers a question during his end of the year press conference
IN PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he answers a question during his end of the year press conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, December 19, 2014. Obama and his family plan to depart Washington later in the day to spend the holidays in Hawaii. Reuters/Stringer

U.S. President Barack Obama responded to the Sony cyber-attack incident. He said that Sony had made a mistake.

According to Obama, Sony made a mistake by canceling the release of the movie "The Interview," which seemed to be the root cause behind the cyber-attack. The movie shows a cartoonish representation of the assassination of North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un. A group of hackers, Guardians of Peace, apparently retaliated for the mockery by hacking Sony systems and leaking secret documents. Obama also said that he wished the company had approached him first regarding the issue. Even though he called the hacking incident as an act of "cyber-vandalism," he refused to believe that it was "an act of war" on North Korea's part against the United States. Sony cancelled its plans to release the movie on Christmas after the hackers had warned that there would be 9/11-like attacks on theatres screening the movie.

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton told CNN that the U.S. president was mistaken as to what had actually happened. He said that the movie theatre companies should be blamed for their decision not to screen the movie after the threats. Lynton said that the theatre companies had forced Sony to withdraw the release of the movie. Obama, on the other hand, was not impressed with the explanation. "I was pretty sympathetic to the fact that they have business considerations that they got to make," CNN quoted Obama, "Had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was."

The U.S. president clarified that he did not have specific problems with Sony. He said that the precedent which the company had set by withdrawing the release was a problem. It showed that a dictator in another country could disrupt a company's distribution chain or its products through cyber-attacks. Lynton, on the contrary, said that Obama's comments had "disappointed" him as it was not the company's decision to cancel the release. Lynton's explanation apparently contradicted with the company's earlier statement on Wednesday. Sony said that it had no further plans to release the movie.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@ibtimes.com.au