FBI offers circumstantial evidence that North Korea is responsible for Sony hack

FBI statement: As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:

  • Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.
  • The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.
  • Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.

The emphasis above is mine.

It’s reasonable to assume that the hackers don’t want to get caught and thrown in jail. It’s also reasonable to assume that they would want to evade detection by disguising themselves as North Korean. An abundance of clues that this attack emanated from North Korean sources may just as likely indicate that it came from somewhere else.

Moreover, given that the U.S. government takes a firm position on refusing to pay ransoms for the release of hostages, why would they not have strongly advised Sony to refuse to capitulate in the face of implausible threats?

President Obama now says that Sony “made a mistake” by pulling the release of the film.

Hmmm… Maybe Sony will now reconsider its decision — they can pitch the release of The Interview as an appropriate form of retaliation and also take advantage of the most massive run of free publicity a movie has ever had.

Sony executives may honestly believe that this film is “desperately unfunny,” but at the end of the day, this isn’t about free speech — it’s about making money.

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