Large-scale cyberattacks have in recent years become effective national-security weapons
WASHINGTON— Damian Paletta reports: A tremendous number of personnel records—including some quite personal records—have likely been stolen by computer hackers. The White House won’t say who did it, but a number of U.S. officials and even some lawmakers have said all signs point to China.
“The Chinese government has denied it, but the staggering haul of records could amount to one of the biggest feats of espionage in decades.”
Right now, the White House and Congress are trying to ascertain what was stolen and how to protect people whose identifies have been compromised, not to mention their “foreign contacts” that are listed on the security clearance forms that could now be on the hard drives of the hackers.
But very soon a much different question will be asked in Washington: If the White House finds out who stole the information, what will President Barack Obama do about it?
“Even though large-scale cyberattacks have been used for more than a decade, they have only become extremely effective national-security weapons in the past few years.”
In December, the White House accused North Korea of stealing and destroying a large amount of records from Sony Pictures Entertainment. President Barack Obama called it “cyber vandalism,” angering some of his critics who wanted the U.S. government to retaliate. Read the rest of this entry »
Merry Christmas and Happy new year everyone. I wish you all the best!
So grateful to have this freedom to watch this cool movie.
I hope you all enjoy it.
화이팅 “The interview”!!!
– Yeonmi Park, North Korean defector
Sarene Leeds reports: Below (after the jump) is Sony’s completed Christmas Day release list as of this morning, but click here throughout the day for updates and for the theaters that plan to show “The Interview” starting Jan. 1.
And if you need a quick refresher on what this film is all about (North Korea, killing Kim Jong-un, bumbling journalists, Lizzy Caplan as a CIA agent – you know, harmless stuff), here are three teasers.
[Update: You can also watch “The Interview” online, starting today at 1 p.m. via YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft Xbox, and at Sony’s site, seetheinterview.com. It will cost $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to purchase an HD version.]
North Korea’s World-Class State-of-the-Art Internet Services Reporting Issues, Outages, Users Experiencing Sub-Optimal PerformancePosted: December 22, 2014
“We aren’t going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in anyway except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen.”
— State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf
The country, which the FBI accused last week of the cyberattack, is suffering from periodic Internet outages, and experts at DYN Research found that recent problems were out of the ordinary, as first reported by North Korea Tech.
According to the research firm, North Korea’s internet grew steadily worse beginning Sunday night, and then went completely offline Monday morning.
“I haven’t seen such a steady beat of routing instability and outages in KP before,” Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at DYN Research, told North Korea Tech. “Usually there are isolated blips, not continuous connectivity problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are absorbing some sort of attack presently.”
“They’re pretty stable networks normally,” he told Re/code. “In the last 24 hours or so, the networks in North Korea are under some kind of duress, but I can’t tell you exactly what’s causing it.”
He added that there is no way to know if the outages are the result of an attack, or are just from maintenance or a power outage. Still, “given the timing,” a cyberattack is worth considering, he told Re/code.
[VIDEO] Mike Rogers: Intelligence Community Was Ready to Respond to North Korea Hack Attack, Didnt Get Decision from ObamaPosted: December 21, 2014
“The problem here was not the fact that we didn’t have the capability to do something nearly in immediate time, we just didn’t get a decision from the president of the United States.”
Ryan Lovelace writes: Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the intelligence community is ready to respond to the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment by hackers that had the support of North Korea. “Our intelligence services, the folks who would be responsible for at least the first wave of trying to make sure they don’t have the capability to do this again, were ready, they have the capability, they were ready to go,” Rogers said on Fox News Sunday….(read more)
Todd Spangler reports: The Facebook and Twitter pages for Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “The Interview” — the satirical film at the center of North Korea’s alleged attack on the studio — as of Saturday morning were not accessible.
Clifford Coonan reports: A state-run Chinese newspaper has slammed Sony’s North Korean-baiting comedy The Interview, which it pulled after a cyberattack, saying it was evidence of Hollywood’s “senseless cultural arrogance”.
“Any civilized world will oppose hacker attacks or terror threats. But a movie like The Interview, which makes fun of the leader of an enemy of the U.S., is nothing to be proud of for Hollywood and U.S. society.”
An editorial in the Global Times newspaper, part of the group that publishes the official Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, said making a comedy about the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “tasteless” and “nothing to be proud of.”
China is North Korea’s only significant ally. China supported the North during the Korean War (1950-53) and aid from Beijing has probably kept the North Korean economy going since it lost the support of the Soviet Union following its collapse in the early 1990s.
“No matter how the U.S. society looks at North Korea and Kim Jong Un, Kim is still the leader of the country. The vicious mocking of Kim is only a result of senseless cultural arrogance.”
However, relations have been strained since the North decided to go ahead with its nuclear weapons program against China’s wishes.
The editorial ran as North Korea said accusations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were “groundless slander” and that it was wanted a joint probe into the incident with the US.
“Any civilized world will oppose hacker attacks or terror threats. But a movie like The Interview, which makes fun of the leader of an enemy of the U.S., is nothing to be proud of for Hollywood and U.S. society,” ran the commentary. Read the rest of this entry »
The first issue of Captain America came out on December 20, 1940. It shows Cap slugging Adolph Hitler in the mouth.
Good stuff, but note the date. America wouldn’t enter World War II for about another year. At the time, many Americans wanted to stay out of another European war. And here was an American superhero punching the leader of a sovereign nation in the kisser. Subsequent issues kept pitting Captain America against Hitler and his goons.
“A theater chain caved. The movie studio caved. As of now, The Interview will never be theatrically released. In theory, Sony could release it online, via on-demand and streaming channels.”
The angriest reaction came from the German-American Bund, Hitler’s stooges in the U.S. They harassed Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America, with hate mail and telephoned death threats.
“The theme was ‘death to the Jews,’” Simon wrote in his memoir. “At first we were inclined to laugh off their threats, but then, people in the office reported seeing menacing-looking groups of strange men in front of the building on 42nd Street, and some of the employees were fearful of leaving the office for lunch.”
[read the full text at National Review]
Simon called the cops, and as soon as the police showed up, the phone rang. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia wanted to speak to the creators of Captain America. Simon got on the line. “You boys over there are doing a good job,” the voice squeaked. “The city of New York will see that no harm will come to you.’”
That is how it’s supposed to work in a democracy. Read the rest of this entry »
A few days ago, the first reviews began to trickle in for the comedy The Interview, which depicts a shambolic attempt to assassinate the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
Unfortunately, they were less than enthusiastic. One critic called it a ‘non-stop sledgehammer … bereft of satiric zing’, while the Hollywood industry paper Variety called it an ‘alleged satire that’s about as funny as a communist food shortage’.
“Trains could crash, pipelines explode, the financial markets risk going into meltdown, the National Grid might crash, hospitals could fall dark, cash dispensers might go dead and ordinary life might come grinding to a halt. Last year, the People’s Liberation Army’s Shanghai-based cyber unit was caught hacking into major American corporations such as the nuclear power company Westinghouse Electric and the United States Steel Corporation.”
Even the film’s makers probably imagined that having earned back its budget from its target audience of American teenagers, their picture would soon disappear into well-deserved obscurity.
Climb-down: Randall Park as North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un in The Interview, which has been pulled from release after Sony Pictures was hacked and confidential material leaked across the Internet
Terrorists:Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju remembered the three year anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-il. If North Korea was to launch a cyber attack it could bring the West to its knees in 15 minutes
How wrong they were. For it now seems certain that The Interview will go down in history not as an indictment of Hollywood’s obsession with the lowest common denominator, but as a chilling symbol of the future of international conflict.
When, two days ago, the film’s parent company Sony announced it was cancelling its Christmas Day release, the decision was widely seen as an abject surrender to foreign pressure.
All week, North Korean hackers have been leaking secrets found in Sony’s emails, from insider gossip about the star Angelina Jolie to the script of the next James Bond film.
In an attempt to shore up wavering cinema chains who were uncertain as to whether to screen the film, Barack Obama recommended that ‘people go to the movies’.
But as pressure mounted, it became clear Sony’s American bosses lacked the courage to stand up to Kim Jong-un’s cyber bullies. And when the hackers issued a terrifying warning to American audiences, telling them to ‘remember September 11, 2001’, Sony simply lost its nerve.
Thus, The Interview has vanished from the schedules, and it seems unlikely it will ever return.
In the meantime, Hollywood figures have been queuing up to denounce Sony’s decision as an awful setback for free speech. ‘Today, the U.S. succumbed to an unprecedented attack on our most cherished bedrock principle,’ said the director Judd Apatow.
The actor Rob Lowe went further: If Sony had been in charge of the Allied war effort in World War II, he said, then the Nazis would have won.
In many ways the story could hardly be a better metaphor for American foreign policy in the past few years.
After almost a decade of reckless, ham-fisted over-stretch under George W. Bush — typified by this month’s appalling revelations about the CIA’s torture programme — the U.S. has turned inwards.
Obama’s policy in Syria and Ukraine has been a shambles, his attitude to Russia is dithering and pusillanimous, and he seems entirely bereft of ideas about how to fight back against the jihadists of Islamic State. Read the rest of this entry »
Drop ‘The Interview’ on Pyongyang
Sony might fear retribution if it did this, but an alternative would be for the U.S. government to buy the movie rights from Sony and release it into the public domain.
U.S. officials are saying they think North Korea is responsible for the hacking of Sony Pictures, and perhaps also the threats that led the studio to cancel release of “The Interview.” Outsiders aren’t so sure, but the U.S. presumably has evidence others don’t. If the Obama Administration believes the evidence, the question is what it will do about it.
“Chinese netizens love to mock Kim, and North Koreans like to watch movies smuggled across the border from China. Perhaps the CIA could dub the movie into Korean to make sure it gets to its target audience.”
Park Sang Hak, a North Korean defector now living in the South, has an idea. Mr. Park, whom we profiled last year, puts information about the outside world along with movies and television programs on USB drives, which he floats into the North on balloons. The Kim Jong Un regime has labeled him “enemy zero” and sent an assassin to kill him with a poison-tipped pen. For real.
— Carol Costello (@CarolCNN) December 19, 2014
Mr. Park wants to include “The Interview” on future balloon launches. But there is another way to make sure that the movie gets the giant audience that Kim fears, even in North Korea: Make it free. Read the rest of this entry »
“I think this is not sort of rocket science, Sony made exactly the wrong decision. What you do is…you put it out on the Internet for free. So it’s a gesture, but also it doubly screws over Pyongyang.”
Three movie theaters say Paramount Pictures has ordered them not to show Team America: World Police one day after Sony Pictures surrendered to cyberterrorists and pulled The Interview. The famous Alamo Drafthouse in Texas, Capitol Theater in Cleveland, and Plaza Atlanta in Atlanta said they would screen the movie instead of The Interview but Paramount has ordered them to stop. (No reason was apparently given and Paramount hasn’t spoken.) Team America of course features Kim’s father, Kim Jong-Il, as a singing marionette.
“For something like this to happen, it had to happen over a long period of time. You cannot just exfiltrate one terabyte or 100 terabytes of data in a matter of weeks.”
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A former hacker for Anonymous doesn’t believe North Korea has the infrastructure to be behind the Sony hack attack.
“Do you really think a bunch of nerds from North Korea are going to fly to New York and start blowing up movie theaters? No. It’s not realistic. It’s not about ‘The Interview.’ It’s about money. It’s a professional job.”
Hector Monsegur told “CBS This Morning” that the communist regime doesn’t have the technical capabilities to pull off the hack.
“In my personal opinion, it’s not. Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean Internet completely…They don’t have the technical capabilities.”
— Hector Monsegur
He continued, “They do have state-sponsored hackers very similar to China, very similar to Russia and very similar to our good, old USA.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of canceling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy “The Interview.”
A former CIA official, though, believes that North Korea could pull of this type of cyberattack.
“North Korea has significant cyber capabilities. They use them quite frequently against South Korea. For a backwards state that might be a little surprising but they also have a nuclear weapon. They are capable of achieving things when they focus on them.”
— Mike Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA
The cancellation announced Wednesday was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio that has been shaken by hacker leaks and intimidations over the last several weeks by an anonymous group calling itself Guardians of Peace.
“This attack went to the heart and core of Sony’s business — and succeeded. We haven’t seen any attack like this in the annals of U.S. breach history.”
— Avivah Litan, a cybersecurity analyst at research firm Gartner
A U.S. official said Wednesday that federal investigators have now connected the Sony hacking to North Korea and may make an announcement in the near future. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to openly discuss an ongoing criminal case.
“It doesn’t tell me much. I’ve seen Russian hackers pretending to be Indian. I’ve seen Ukrainian hackers pretending to be Peruvian. There’s hackers that pretend they’re little girls. They do this for misinformation, disinformation, covering their tracks.”
Monsegur stated that Sony’s hacking had to have happened over a long period of time. Read the rest of this entry »
SEOUL, South Korea — A defector who once worked as a computer expert for Pyongyang says North Korea is running a vast network of hackers committing cyber warfare against the perceived enemies of the Stalinist state.
“Raising cyber agents is fairly cheap. The world has the wrong view of the North Korean state. With that incorrect world view, North Korea was able to increase its ability to launch cyberattacks.”
Jang Se-yul, who defected from North Korea seven years ago, told CNN that he thinks there are 1,800 cyber warriors in the agency in place around the world, but he says even the agents themselves don’t know how many operatives work for the secretive group, labeled Bureau 121.
— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) December 18, 2014
The South Korean government thinks Bureau 121 is the agency at the heart of the cyberattacks that North Korea conducts against foreign countries, a government official who requested to be anonymous told CNN on Thursday.
— National Review (@NRO) December 18, 2014
“This silent war, the cyber war, has already begun without a single bullet fired.”
An unknown number of agents and operatives work with Bureau 121, the official said, adding that South Korean intelligence thinks the group is responsible for the “Dark Seoul” hacks on South Korean banks and media companies in March and June 2013. Read the rest of this entry »