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Sony Security

Did North Korea Really Attack Sony? 282

An anonymous reader writes "Many security experts remain skeptical of North Korea's involvement in the recent Sony hacks. Schneier writes: "Clues in the hackers' attack code seem to point in all directions at once. The FBI points to reused code from previous attacks associated with North Korea, as well as similarities in the networks used to launch the attacks. Korean language in the code also suggests a Korean origin, though not necessarily a North Korean one, since North Koreans use a unique dialect. However you read it, this sort of evidence is circumstantial at best. It's easy to fake, and it's even easier to interpret it incorrectly. In general, it's a situation that rapidly devolves into storytelling, where analysts pick bits and pieces of the "evidence" to suit the narrative they already have worked out in their heads.""
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Did North Korea Really Attack Sony?

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  • How is a bunch of speculation a news story? Is this Foxdot?
    • It seems that the entire story is pure speculation and its huge.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Nah /. is turning into gawker lite. Notice the amount of shit coming in from all the clickbait sites these days? Dice must be suffering as people continue to leave, hell even good articles or articles that normally would have had 1k+ 8mo ago are only pulling 300 posts now.

    • Speculation becomes news when somebody adopts an official position about it.

      My 2c is that either NK is not behind it, or NK is not considered a menace. Else the attack would be downplayed and covered in FUD as all enemy achievements in war always are.

  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @07:14PM (#48670031)
    Kim Jong Un is exactly the type who would accept undeserved credit for a cyberattack. "What, who me? I did what? Uh ... oh really? Oh! OK, yeah everybody, I did it!"
  • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @07:21PM (#48670061)
    I was suspicious of the U.S. allegations that the North Korean government was behind it when the North Koreans denied it was them. If you're going to hack somebody to make a political statement, it makes no sense to later deny that you were involved. Someone might be trying to make it look like North Korea, but I seriously doubt they were directly involved in this.
    • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @07:28PM (#48670093)

      I was suspicious of the U.S. allegations that the North Korean government was behind it when the North Koreans denied it was them. If you're going to hack somebody to make a political statement, it makes no sense to later deny that you were involved. Someone might be trying to make it look like North Korea, but I seriously doubt they were directly involved in this.

      Wrong--Even implausible denials can be very useful in international relations. They give sympathetic expatriates and foreigners something to support and are also useful legally. The obvious example is Putin's recent doublespeak over invading Ukraine. It is only a paper shield but it helps confuse the issues slightly, delaying and discouraging organized response of any kind.

      As another example, since the UN Charter as passed, open wars of aggression have been outlawed. As a result, there have been a whole lotta agressive "self-defense."

      As another example, Israel-Palestine. Regardless of which side you're on, you'll see the other side doing what you think is lying about something or the other.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      To make a political statement? Since when was this "a political statement"? It was an attempt to stop a movie that made fun of the Great Leader. An attempt that mostly succeeded. Which was done after previously threatening Sony about the issue.

      What, exactly, is to gain by admitting culpability? Is that usually what criminals do? "Why, yes, officer! I threw the brick through my ex's window to get back at her and scare her. I'm telling you now so that you can go ahead and punish me!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bin Laden initially denied that he was responsible for 9/11. He only started bragging about it years later, after US was occupying Afghanistan.

    • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @08:02PM (#48670273)

      I was suspicious of the U.S. allegations that the North Korean government was behind it when the North Koreans denied it was them.

      Yes, because the North Koreans are forthright and honest chaps, their statements are always unbiased and true...

      If you're going to hack somebody to make a political statement, it makes no sense to later deny that you were involved.

      The North Koreans do not operate on the same logical reasoning that most of the rest of the world does. Trying to apply what most of the world defines as "making sense" to what North Korea says and does in not as straight forward as you might think. They have often denied involvement in thing later proven.

      • I was suspicious of the U.S. allegations that the North Korean government was behind it when the North Koreans denied it was them.

        Yes, because the North Koreans are forthright and honest chaps, their statements are always unbiased and true...

        That is also true about the US too, and their adamant allegations about another country have always turned out to be true...

        • That is also true about the US too

          And this has exactly what to do with the possiblity that NK did the Sony hack? Not much if anything.

      • I was suspicious of the U.S. allegations that the North Korean government was behind it when the North Koreans denied it was them.

        Yes, because the North Koreans are forthright and honest chaps, their statements are always unbiased and true...

        Sure, but in fairness, American TLA's aren't well known for their honesty, either. Remember James 'my job is to lie to the American people' Clapper?

      • 1. The North Koreans have absolutely nothing to gain from the Sony hack.
        2. No one who knows actual facts about this case has any interest in letting the truth be known.
        3. We will never, ever know who hacked Sony, or why, until it IS in someone's interest for the truth to be known.
        4. That won't happen.
    • North Korea has never claimed credit for any of the non-computer related provocations they've made, from the violent to the subtle, with the sole exception of those which they're unequivocally responsible for, such as North Korean Artillery firing on a South Korean island. They've denied any number of things that basically the entire rest of the world believes to be their doing.

      Consider the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan a few years ago. It was sunk by an explosion not far from North Korean wat
  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @07:24PM (#48670077) Homepage

    Because the world is just full of people who would hack a company to blackmail them not to release a movie about Kim Jong Un. Because everyone loves the Great Leader! His family's personality cult^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HVoluntary Praise Actions only take up about 1/3rd of the North Korean budget. And I mean, they totally deserve it. I mean, did you know that his father was the world's greatest golf player who never had to defecate and whose birth was fortold by a swallow and heralded by a new star in the sky?

    No, of course it wasn't North Korea. Clearly it was the work of America! Because America wants nothing more than a conflict with North Korea right now. Because clearly Russia and Syria and ISIS aren't enough, no, the US obviously has nothing better to do than to try to stir up things out of the blue with the Hollywood obsessed leader of a cult state whose family has gone so far as to kidnap filmmakers and force them to make movies for him. It all just makes so damn much sense!

    Cue the conspiracy theorists in three, two, one...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It is a very good way to stop anyone talking about what was actually in all the released internal documents though. While the media's been all over this stupid N. Korea angle, where are the reports about the actual scandals in the released documents?

    • Or the hackers watched the movie and just couldn't justify being that mean to anyone who would download it?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Removing the government, destabilising the region and killing hundreds of thousands of civilians based solely on circumstantial evidence isn't exactly new to the US government, i'm sure they don't really care who was truly responsible.

  • not really likely (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @07:29PM (#48670097)

    NK denied it, rather than taking credit.

    Their tools are widely distributed, so faking the source is really easy.

    The US government is weird combination of ineptitude and self-aggrandizement, so the FBI claims are likely pure BS designed to make the claimants look good (they were SOOO sure that had profiled the Yosemite killer years ago that it only took two more deaths to prove them wrong).

    • I'm not sure if I'd say it was "really easy" to fake attribution without leaving your own traces. It's very easy to screw up and leave inadvertent traces of stuff in places, even for reasonably skilled hackers. That's not to say it isn't possible, just not as easy as we may sometimes think.

      The FBI could certainly be wrong (there's a reason there's a joke that the acronym stands for "Famous But Incompetent"). There's also a lot of 'experts' out there pushing that it was/wasn't North Korea, most of whom also
      • by hhawk ( 26580 )

        Frame up yes.. but internal to NK... not external..

      • Re:not really likely (Score:4, Interesting)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Thursday December 25, 2014 @06:02AM (#48671795) Homepage

        What makes it suspicious is that the hackers seem to have access to Sony's system for an extended period of time before going public. If their goal was to prevent the release of this movie they left it rather late in the day. It doesn't seem to have been their primary goal, and in fact they tried to extort money out of Sony first which seems like an odd thing for a nation state to do.

        The only evidence that the FBI has offered are some Korean strings, which by themselves tell us very little.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @07:29PM (#48670099) Homepage Journal
    So what's the motive then? Plain ol' extortion, or are they trying to distract the media from the CIA torture story that came out about the same time? If it's the latter, it did a good job -- the media and public seem to have the attention span of a two-year-old.
    • Re:To What End? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @07:38PM (#48670151) Homepage Journal

      The same article over at boing boing suggested that a sacked ex employee had released the files.

    • So what's the motive then?

      I'm skeptical it was North Korea too. But they do in fact have a huge motive. You know how Thailand's government gets their panties in a bunch every time a foreigner somehow mocks their king? Multiply that by a hundred. That's how much North Korea reveres their leader. Not just their government, but a good fraction of their people. They've had it drilled into their heads since birth that their leader is a god. They got upset at this commercial [youtube.com]. Sony was gonna release a who

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        I'm skeptical it was North Korea too. But they do in fact have a huge motive. You know how Thailand's government gets their panties in a bunch every time a foreigner somehow mocks their king?

        What the hell does Thailand have to do with North Korea?

        Prejudiced much?

        North Korea does not have any great need to repress bad publicity. The royal house of Thailand is very different, and in a very different country with a very different culture.

    • I don't think the timing is right for that. Moreover, the evidence seems to be (sadly) that most people in the USA just don't care about torture, or support it (many of them because they buy into the 'ticking time bomb' fallacy).
  • Wait - what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @07:39PM (#48670153) Homepage Journal

    The FBI points to reused code from previous attacks associated with North Korea [...]

    Um... I hate to be the non-technical person that points this out, but...

    The evidence that implicates NK on the previous attacks - is it the same evidence used to assign blame in the current attack?

    Is this citing the conclusions based on the same evidence/situation from previous attacks to give legitimacy to the evidence in the current attack?

    What a scam! Claim something on flimsy evidence, then cite those claims to give legitimacy to the flimsy evidence!

    I wonder... can I do this sort of thing in the scientific literature? Hmmmm...

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      It is begging the question, isn't it?

      I am fairly confident that there are people in the three letter agencies and the government that aren't so much interested in finding the truth as in blaming the Most Hated Enemy du jour.

    • It's certainly not unreasonable to identify a trend. The existence of trends doesn't automatically infer the cause behind the trend though, merely that if you can identify the cause of one event, you can then infer that it was likely also the cause of the other events. If the FBI in this case was wrong that those were North Korea, then that would mean it's wrong to use that to infer this was North Korea too.

      That said, assuming we believe these events to be related, it does seem like the likeliest answer wou
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Experts Are Still Divided on Whether North Korea Is Behind Sony Attack ( 12.23.14)
      http://www.wired.com/2014/12/s... [wired.com]
      "Rather, he thinks someone in a political position inside the FBI, not actual investigators, got hold of a report ..."
      "These FBI insiders read this and “wanted it to be North Korea so much that they just threw away caution,” he suggests. "
      BREAKING: We Can Conclusively Confirm North Korea Was Not Behind #Sony Hack (DECEMBER 22, 2014 )
      http://gotnews.com/breaking-ca... [gotnews.com]
  • our governments love bogey men, someone who they can point at and make us forget their own faults or to use as an excuse for more spending on the military/spy-agencies/... We have been here before, anyone remember how Saddam was supposed to have WMD (in spite of doubts from Hans Blix), Tony Blair's ''dodgy dossier''. Finding other examples is not hard.

    Time will (probably) tell if it was/wasn't NK - but by then the difference will not make a story.

    • I'm not sure Sony is really a believable target for a false flag attack. Wouldn't you want a sympathetic victim if you're trying to generate outrage? Sony/Hollywood aren't exactly the most sympathetic victims, to put it mildly.

      Also, North Korea HAS WMDs, and has even set off nukes. They have far more WMD than Bush/Blair/Cheney/etc ever claimed Iraq had. They're also responsible for all sorts of horrible things done both to their own people and others. Really, if North Korea was behind the Sony hack, it woul
  • by jd.schmidt ( 919212 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @08:29PM (#48670401)
    So I hear it was an inside job, how did NK get a spy infiltrated into Sony so quickly? Does NK really have that many spy assets all over the U.S. that they can whistle up as needed? Or was this an elaborate operation set up when the movie was first announced and they managed to infiltrate a NK citizen into Sony pictures in the time it took the make the movie? How does this all actually go down? FYI, NK is pretty computer illiterate over all compared to most countries and nearly every country on the planet is better positioned than NK to pull this stunt off along with a whole bunch of independent yahoos. Unless there is U.S. born traitor working for NK, seems that the possible suspects could be narrowed down pretty quickly. I am NOT saying NK was framed, but I AM saying there are a lot a people out there to do stuff for reasons I wouldn't and more real data is needed.
    • You are saying that NK has a lack of powerful computer skills.. do you actually have a factual basis for that? They send many students outside for training and education, and there are reports that they do indeed have a cyber war unit. They used to kidnap Japanese people for information, surely they could get their hands on some Pcs running linux.
      http://www.zdnet.com/article/n... [zdnet.com]

  • So much wrong here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kencurry ( 471519 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @08:46PM (#48670481)
    1) No concrete evidence that a Sovereign County hacked into Sony, but POTS says he thinks they did anyways

    2) Movie is probably total piece of sh*t anyways, who cares?

    3) Even if NK did it, it is not an attack on US but a foreign corp with some US holding, but still a Japanese company, why don't they saber rattle instead of us?

    4) The whole thing could have been PR stunt from Sony to advertise the movie

    5) Why didn't POTS just tell Sony "get your sh*t together, improve your security - tired of this crap, dayum!"
  • by Eternal Vigilance ( 573501 ) on Wednesday December 24, 2014 @09:00PM (#48670543)

    Of course North Korea didn't attack Sony. Asking "Did North Korea really attack Sony?" is like asking "Does NORAD really track Santa?"

    The North Korea story was spin to save Sony from the devastating bad publicity about the depths of their business and technological incompetence. (The politicians who defended them will get repaid for this favor during the next election cycle. My previous comment about this from last week: They may even start using this to try to rescue that disaster of a movie. "You have to see 'The Interview'! To support free speech and America!" [slashdot.org])

    The Dear Leader Of The Free World announcing "don't blame poor Sony, they were helpless victims of the evil North Koreans" totally changed the media story, saving Sony huge $$$ in both public perception and future lawsuits.

    But just how America's President and trillion-dollar national security state could get things so wrong - but should always be trusted when saying who's bad and deserves to be killed, like some kind of psycho-Santa delivering death from his sleigh filled with drones - will never be questioned.

    Businesses and politicians will never stop lying when it works this well.

    Merry Christmas.

  • ... is how many people don't want it to be North Korea.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      You are mixing that up with how many people think the idea is ridiculous on so many levels especially given that the N.K. angle was added so late in the situation. Criminals demanding money apparently was too boring so the story changed.
  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Thursday December 25, 2014 @06:07AM (#48671803) Homepage Journal

    As far as I'm concerned, it's just marketing bullshit trying to put a good face on Sony's latest breach. If it were their first, I might think differently, but it's pretty clear Sony's "security" is a freakin' joke. Add in a movie that would have probably bombed without all the exposure, and you have all the excuses you need to paint a "North Korea" connection.

    It doesn't hurt that the US has a hate-on for North Korea so they can try to score some political points off the story, too.

    Shame on Obama for selling out to Sony so blatantly.

  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Thursday December 25, 2014 @12:56PM (#48672559) Journal

    One theory is that Sony is doing a real life twist on that movie's plot. They make a movie they realize is going to be a big money loser, so to rescue it -- they fabricate a scenario where its offensive nature causes a situation where it causes a security risk for everyone. Film has to be pulled from the theaters to protect the people, and they get paid by insurance for the resulting losses from the "hack attempt".

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