FBI Investigating North Korea Connection to Sony Pictures Hack

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, inspects computers at a military command. The country is suspected of hacking Sony in retaliation for an upcoming film set in North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, inspects computers at a military command. The country is suspected of hacking Sony in retaliation for an upcoming film set in North Korea.

North Korea’s population has very scarce access to the Internet, but the dictatorship’s military employs highly trained hackers – prompting the FBI to investigate whether the rogue state hacked the networks of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and whether U.S. businesses face a similar attack.

The hack against Sony Pictures last week resulted in several of the company’s unreleased movies being leaked online, including “The Interview,” a movie due in theaters on Dec. 25 in which two Americans are recruited by the CIA to kill North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. This has led to speculation that North Korea may have hacked Sony as political retaliation against the film. The FBI is investigating the malware attack against Sony, FBI spokesman Josh Campbell said in an email, adding “the targeting of public and private sector computer networks remains a significant threat.”

The hack of Sony could be the beginning of a broader attack on U.S. businesses. The FBI on Monday released a confidential report to businesses warning them about malware that can override data on hard drives and even prevent them from booting up, making it hard to recover data destroyed by the attack without physically repairing the drives, Reuters reports. The warning obtained by Reuters does not cite Sony by name but the news service said it resembles descriptions of both the attack on Sony and malware used against South Korea in the past.

Technologically deficient North Korea is able to develop cybersecurity capabilities by spending much of its money on it military and siphoning economic and technological aid from its few allies, which include Russia, China and Iran, says Amy Chang, a research associate at the Center for a New American Security think tank.

“A totalitarian state with what seems like full control over its population can divert a lot of resources to develop cybersecurity,” Chang says. ‘They can train people to be hackers from a very young age.”

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SOURCE: U.S. News and World Report
Tom Risen

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