In-brief: The Washington Post reports that the Obama Administration will announce the creation of a new agency to coordinate intelligence about cyber attacks. The move is, in part, a response to confusion following the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment in November.
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The New York Times claims that the U.S. National Security Agency used intelligence gleaned from a clandestine operation to compromise North Korea’s cyber warfare unit to pin the blame for the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack on the reclusive Communist country. According to the story by David Sanger and Martin Fackler, the Obama Administration’s decision to quickly blame the hack on the DPRK grew out of a four year-old National Security Agency (NSA) program that compromise Chinese networks that connect North Korea to the outside world. The classified NSA program eventually placed malware that could track the internal workings of the computers and networks used by the North’s hackers and under the control of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the North Korean intelligence unit, and Bureau 121, the North’s hacking unit, which mostly operates out of China. It has long been recognized that North Korea, which lacks a mature information technology infrastructure, does much of […]
We’ve been writing a lot about the issue of cyber attribution in recent weeks, following the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November. That incident has become something of a Rorschach Test for those in the information security field: revealing as much about the individual attempting to explain the Sony hack as about the attack itself. Rid and a Ph.D student, Ben Buchanan, have authored a paper in the Journal of Strategic Studies. In their paper, Rid and Buchanan note that one of the biggest challenges of cyber attribution: bridging the technical and political or cultural issues that often surround cyber attribution. As Rid notes: the individuals doing the basic forensic work on the incident may not have a grasp of the larger cultural or political issues at play. That’s a dynamic we’ve seen at play (in spades) in recent news about the hack of Sony Pictures. In this podcast, Rid […]
The Director of the FBI James Comey offered his most direct retort to date to those who doubt the Bureau’s case against the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), saying that the hackers who pillaged Sony Pictures Entertainment were “sloppy” and revealed the source of the attack – IP addresses linked to the reclusive government, Ars Technica reports. Comey was speaking at ICCS, the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York City on Wednesday. He said that, while the Sony attackers largely concealed their identity by using proxy servers, on several occasions they “got sloppy” and connected directly to Sony’s network, revealing their own IP address in the process. Those slip-ups provided evidence linking North Korea to the attack on Sony’s network, he claimed. The IP address isn’t the only evidence, however. (Thankfully.) Comey also said that “analysts at the FBI found the patterns of writing and other identifying data […]
As the New York Times reports, the Obama administration doubled down on its recent allegation that the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea (DPRK) was behind the hacking of Sony Pictures, announcing sanctions on 10 senior North Korean officials and several organizations in response to the incident. Paradoxically, the administration acknowledged that there is no evidence that the 10 officials took part in either ordering or planning the Sony attack. Instead, they described them as “central to a number of provocative actions against the United States,” the Times reported. Those ‘provocative actions’ were not described. The actions mirror the Administration’s controversial decision, in May, to charge five Chinese military officers in May, 2014, for their connection to computer hacking and cyber espionage campaigns directed at U.S. firms in the nuclear power, metals and solar products industries. In the case of the Chinese nationals, however, the FBI cited evidence linking the five military officers to […]