Feb 4, 2015 · 1 minute

Sony claims the November 2014 hacking of its Sony Pictures Entertainment division has cost it at least $15 million "in investigation and remediation costs."

Officials in the United States have often attributed the cyberattack, which led to the leak of several films, employee medical records, personal emails, and other sensitive information, to the expansive cyber warfare unit in North Korea's army.

That attribution was questioned by experts who warned that placing the blame for digital attacks is often quite difficult. Yet a report from the New York Times says the efforts were guided by a National Security Agency surveillance program.

It's clear that the hacking had an obvious impact on Sony regardless of who was behind it; Other theories blame an independent hacking group and a disgruntled ex-employee. In that sense, the attack is just a sign of what the future holds.

Hacks are getting more expensive. Sometimes that's because companies have to investigate the attack. Other times it's because the companies are being sued by banks, consumers, and who-knows-who-else for not preventing a data breach.

That's not including the tax dollars spent as the FBI, the NSA, and other agencies help companies critical to "national infrastructure" such as JPMorgan Chase, respond to cyberattacks enabled by these critical companies' own incompetence.

Responses to the Sony hacking have ranged from overblown to outright stupid. But that doesn't mean it's not a good example of how cyberattacks will cost their targets -- and probably taxpayers -- large amounts of money in the near future.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]