The Los Angeles Times reports: Federal authorities insist that the North Korean government is behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Cybersecurity experts? Many are not convinced.
From the time the hack became public Nov. 24, many of these experts have voiced their suspicions that a disgruntled Sony Pictures insider was involved.
Respected voices in the online security and anti-hacking community say the evidence presented publicly by the FBI is not enough to draw firm conclusions.
They argue that the connections between the Sony hack and the North Korean government amount to circumstantial evidence. Further, they say the level of the breach indicates an intimate knowledge of Sony’s computer systems that could have come from someone on the inside.
This week, prominent San Mateo, Calif., cybersecurity firm Norse Corp. — whose clients include government agencies, financial institutions and technology companies — briefed law enforcement officials on evidence it collected that pointed toward an inside job.
“We can’t find any indication that North Korea either ordered, masterminded or funded this attack,” Kurt Stammberger, a senior vice president at Norse, said in an interview with The Times. Although conceding that his findings were not conclusive, Stammberger added: “Nobody has been able to find a credible connection to the North Korean government.”
Stammberger said a team of nine analysts dug through data including Norse’s worldwide network of millions of Web sensors, internal Sony documents and underground hacker chat rooms. Leads suggesting North Korea as the culprit turned out to be red herrings and dead ends, he said.
Instead, the data pointed to a former employee who may have collaborated with outside hackers. The employee, who left the studio in a May restructuring, had the qualifications and access necessary to carry out the crime, according to Stammberger.
Moreover, names of company servers and passwords were programmed into the malware that infiltrated the studio’s network, suggesting hackers had inside knowledge of the studio’s systems, Stammberger said. [Continue reading…]