U.S. puts new focus on fortifying cyber defenses

The Wall Street Journal reports: The Obama administration is increasingly concerned about a wave of digital extortion copycats in the aftermath of the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, as the government and companies try to navigate unfamiliar territory to fortify defenses against further breaches.

About 300 theaters on Thursday screened the movie that apparently triggered the hacking attack, a comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after Sony reversed its initial decision to acquiesce to hacker demands that the film be shelved.

Still, the threat to Sony — allegedly by North Korea—marked “a real crossing of a threshold” in cybersecurity, given its unusually destructive and coercive nature, said Michael Daniel, the cybersecurity coordinator for the White House National Security Council.

“It really is a new thing we’re seeing here in the United States,” Mr. Daniel said. “You could see more of this kind of activity as countries like North Korea and other malicious actors see it in their interest to try and use that cyber tool.” [Continue reading…]

Countries like North Korea is arguably a category of one. “Other malicious actors” is the group to be more concerned about — a category in which governments may still be in the minority. It’s a group that includes disgruntled employees, hackers, hactivists, criminal organizations, and corporate competitors.

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