Federal investigators announced Wednesday they discovered decisive clues linking last month’s hack of Sony Pictures database with North Korea, which happened just before the now-suspended release of a comedy film, revolving around the fictional assassination of the isolated nation’s chieftain, Kim Jong-un.
The $44-million comedy, “The Interview”, will now not be released as planned on Dec. 25. "Sony has no further release plans for the film," the studio said Wednesday as reported by Reuters.
An anonymous high-ranking official at the Obama administration told the New York Times that Pyongyang is “centrally involved” in the attack against Sony and the new threats of leaks in confidential information and acts of terror, albeit Sony cancelled the release of the movie. The investigation has determined that methods used in the Sony hack were similar to the ones in several past attacks, including a hack in Saudi Arabia in 2012, blamed on Iran, and another attack against South Korean banks and media enterprises in 2013. The tools used by hackers are commercially available on the black market, the researchers say.
The malware used against Sony's computers is similar to that used in attacks against South Korea’s credit and media organizations in 2013. A hacker community known as Dark Seoul is believed to have staged last year’s attacks, and might be involved in the Sony hack as well. The investigation also suggests that hackers might have received insider help in the Sony attack.
Pyongyang has somewhat denied its involvement, though praises the hackers by having dubbed the Sony hack as a “righteous deed of supporters and sympathizers.” The most recent developments in the cybersecurity crisis include the hackers’ threats of acts of terror against movie theaters intending to show the controversial movie.
“The world will be full of fear,” the hackers’ message reads as quoted by Variety. “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.”
Ex-GOP House Rep. Newt Gingrich said an efficient response would be to release the movie online for free with a Korean-language version. As for now, he added, the US has “lost its first cyberwar.”
Sony should release "the Interview" online for free so North Koreans can't censor American creativity--should have Korean language version— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) 17 декабря 2014
No one should kid themselves. With the Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very very dangerous precedent.— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) 17 декабря 2014
The White House is now “considering a range of options in weighing a potential response,” Bernadette Meehan of the National Security Council said as quoted by the NY Times. It is yet unclear whether the US government will directly confront Pyongyang over the hack, or if it will respond using similar methods, cyber-attacking North Korea’s computer networks.“The Interview”, a comedy film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco includes a scene of Kim Jong-un’s assassination, and was to be released on Christmas. North Korea’s authorities had previously expressed their displeasure with the film’s concept and visual imagery. In November, the studio producing the movie, Sony Pictures, experienced a massive leak of confidential data. Soon afterwards the hackers demanded the cancellation of the film’s release.