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 […]
The official line on perhaps the biggest security story of the year shifted noticeably this week following a report by the security firm Norse Corp. that cast doubt on the official explanation of the devastating November hack: that it was a state-sponsored operation carried out by hackers working for the government of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or DPRK. Two reports in recent days – both citing officials close to the Sony hack investigation – suggest that the FBI believes – simultaneously – that the DPRK did not act alone and that it was the only actor responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
A strong counter-narrative to the official account of the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment has emerged in recent days, with the visage of the petulant North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, replaced by another, more familiar face: former Sony Pictures employees angry over their firing during a recent reorganization at the company. Researchers from the security firm Norse allege that their investigation of the hack of Sony has uncovered evidence that leads, decisively, away from North Korea as the source of the attack. Instead, the company alleges that a group of six individuals is behind the hack, at least one a former Sony Pictures Entertainment employee who worked in a technical role and had extensive knowledge of the company’s network and operations. [Read Security Ledger coverage of the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment.] If true, the allegations by Norse deal a serious blow to the government’s account of the incident, which placed the blame squarely on […]
The Christian Science Monitor is running a story I wrote this week on the security of the electric grid. In the piece, I take a look at whether the electric industry is soft-pedaling cyber risk. From the piece: “For all the huffing and puffing in Washington D.C. policy circles about the hack of Sony Pictures being an act of “cyber war,” for security experts who have been working within the power sector, however, the dire warnings are not news. They would not have been news last year, or the year before. In fact, (NSA Chief Mike) Rogers’ dim assessment of the US power sector’s readiness to face and withstand a cyberattack has been shared and articulated within the power industry for seven years. “Why is it that the US power grid in 2014 is not better prepared to keep nation-state hackers at bay, or to withstand a critical cyberattack? Some of the […]
The hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which first came to light on November 24th, devolved this week into a chaotic international “whodunnit” with conflicting reports attributing the incident to everything from the government of North Korea to the government of China to global hacktivist group Anonymous to disgruntled Sony employees. For sure: those attributing the attack to hacking crews within the military of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) had their argument bolstered by reports in the New York Times and elsewhere claiming that the U.S. government now believes that the DPRK, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, was responsible for the devastating hack. Officials at Sony Pictures Entertainment clearly believe the connection is credible, ordering the cancellation of the release of the Sony Pictures film The Interview following threats of violence on theaters showing the film. That acceded to a key demand of the hackers, who have used the […]