Connect with us

Breaches

4 Theories Regarding the Sony Hack

Published

on

It’s been a little over two weeks since the U.S. government blamed North Korea for the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures, and Cybersecurity firms and hackers have continued to express doubts as to the legitimacy of these claims. Two cyber security firms, Norse Corporation and Cloud Flare, conducted independent investigations into the hack. Their results are in stark contrast to the FBI’s claim that Pyongyang carried out the hack.

// -- Discuss and ask questions in our community on Workplace.

However, the U.S. Government continues to implicated North Korea in the hacks against Sony Pictures saying that security companies offering alternate theories do not have an accurate understanding of the evidence.

Rather than settling the debate, the FBI’s claims have increased speculation as to who hacked Sony. Skeptics have claimed that evidence cited by the FBI is inconclusive and questioned whether Pyongyang had the ability, much less motivation to break into Sony’s servers. In a country where it’s estimated only a few thousand have access to the internet, with just over 1,000 IPv4 addresses and outdated technology, it’s hard to believe they were able to perform such a historic hack.

// -- Become a yearly Platinum Member and save 69 USD. Click here to change your current membership -- //

Here are a few of the top theories floating around.

Inside Job: Physically Hacked

HackersGotnews.com claims they “can confirm that North Korea was not behind the Sony hack”. Citing an investigation into the data they showed that over 200GB of data was copied over 5-6 hours on the night of November 21st. Using the time stamps of the released data they were able to come up with a rough transfer speed of around 480Mbit/s, which is the speed of a USB 2.0.

Their conclusion: The “hackers” were physically at a Sony LAN workstation and pulled the data from there. Got News went a step further citing that the same night of the data transfer Charles Sipkins, the Sony Pictures’ head of corporate communications, publicly resigned from his $600,000 job. Sipkins’s former client was NewsCorp and Sipkins was officially fired by Pascal’s husband over a snub by the Hollywood Reporter.

Inside Job: Remotely Hacked

Researchers from the security firm Norse allege that their investigation into the hacking uncovered evidence that leads, decisively, away from North Korea. Instead, Norse alleges that a group of six individuals are behind the hack, one of which was a former Sony Pictures employee that worked in a technical role and had knowledge of the company’s network and operations.

Using the HR data that was leaked out, Norse was able to identify employees that had been laid off during April-May. After identifying a former employee who was described as having a “very technical background”, researchers from Norse followed the individual online, noting angry posts she made on social media about the layoffs and Sony. The company further identified several suspect individuals through access to IRC forums and other sites. They were able to capture communications with known underground hacking and hacktivist groups in Europe and Asia.

Stammerberger, the Senior Vice President at Norse, was careful with the company’s finding, stating that they were hardly conclusive and may just add a wrinkle to the already wrinkled picture. Norse employees are reported to be briefing the FBI today about their finds.

“They’re the investigators. We’re going to show them our data and where it points us. As far as whether it is proof that would stand up in a court of law? That’s not our job to determine, it is theirs.” – Kurt Stammberger

When considering how hackers could have obtained near-perfect knowledge of Sony Pictures’ network and successfully siphon off terabytes of data, while remaining undetected – it raises concerns that someone on the inside was involved. According to Mark Rasch, a former federal prosecutor and a principal at Rasch Technology and Cyberlaw, “It has always been suspicious that it was North Korea,” Rasch said. “Not impossible – but doubtful…It made a lot more sense that it was insiders pretending to be North Korea.”

The Guardians of Peace (GOP) Framed North Korea

A group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace have taken credit for the cyberattack. Whoever the hackers are, they released gigabytes worth of stolen, private data since penetrating Sony’s defenses on Nov. 24. But neither the country of North Korea nor “The Interview” were explicitly referenced in the GOP’s original message:

“We’ve already warned you, and this is just a beginning. We continue till our request be met. We’ve obtained all your internal data including your secrets and top secrets. If you don’t obey us, we’ll release data shown below to the world.”

Taking into consideration the above theory, perhaps it was an inside job, one in which the GOP and insider teamed together and framed North Korea in order to cover their tracks. Evidence further supporting this is the software used in the hack.

After examining the malware used to infiltrate the studio, the FBI said it found similarities between that software and software used in previous cyber-attacks carried out by North Korea. But Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law Professor, who serves on the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law, is unconvinced.

“It is at least possible that some other nation is spoofing a North Korean attack,” he wrote Friday on the national security blog Lawfare. “For if the United States knows the characteristics or signatures of prior North Korean attacks, then so too might some third country that could use these characteristics or signatures.”

The most compelling evidence for this is that the threats against the movie The Interview were only made by the hackers after the media picked up on the possible connection between the movie and the hack.

North Korea Hacked Sony

The FBI hasn’t released all the evidence they have, and it’s entirely possible they are sitting on a smoking-gun that indisputably points back to North Korea. The FBI has issued this statement:

As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:

Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.

The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. Government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.

Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.

The FBI’s press release says that the bureau’s conclusion is only based “in part” on the clues mentioned. This leaves the possibility that the U.S. government has classified evidence that North Korea is behind the attack. After all, the NSA has been trying to eavesdrop on North Korea’s government communications since the Korean War.

Images from Kobby Dagan and Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

Rate this post:

Important for improving the service. Please add a comment in the comment field below explaining what you rated and why you gave it that rate. Failed Trade Recommendations should not be rated as that is considered a failure either way.
0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.
Loading...

A UNC Chapel Hill graduate, blockchain enthusiast and analyst. I have a background in programming and IT, strong studies in econ, stats and game theory. I'm interested in online privacy and privacy laws.




Feedback or Requests?

Breaches

Coincheck Hackers Launder 40% of Stolen NEM Funds, Experts Say

Published

on

The hackers behind Coincheck’s massive NEM heist have successfully offloaded 40% of the stolen funds, according to new research by Tokyo-based consultancy group L Plus. The successful money laundering campaign highlights the ongoing challenges authorities face in bringing cyber criminals to justice.

// -- Discuss and ask questions in our community on Workplace.

Hackers Launder NEM

Analysts at L Plus believe that roughly 200 million NEM tokens, worth $79 million, have already been laundered through the dark web. However, the hackers likely pocketed a much smaller amount amid ongoing efforts to blacklist the tokens.

Nikkei Asian Review reported Monday that Coincheck was targeted with “suspicious traffic” for weeks leading up to the Jan. 26 heist. Citing a person close to the investigation, Nikkei said the attackers hacked an employee email and stole a private key needed to transfer the NEM tokens to the desired accounts. L Plus indicated that the attacker must have repeatedly accessed the Coincheck server to obtain the private key.

When the hack took place, the stolen NEM tokens were worth more than $400 million. Today, they are worth less than half that amount. The identity of the attackers remains unknown to this day. However, authorities have speculated that North Korea may have been responsible for the attack.

// -- Become a yearly Platinum Member and save 69 USD. Click here to change your current membership -- //

Coincheck plans to resume operations this week following a government-mandated freeze on all trading activity.

Japan Boosts Oversight

The attack has prompted Japan’s financial regulators to step up their oversight efforts of the cryptocurrency market. Last week, regulators penalized seven exchanges after deeming their internal controls insufficient to deal with a cyber attack.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) slapped two exchanges – FSHO and Bit Station – with month-long suspensions. The remaining five exchanges – Bicrements, Coincheck, GMO Coin, Mr. Exchange and Tech Bureau – were given business improvement orders.

The FSA began conducting on-site inspections in late January following the Coincheck attack. Regulators have uncovered several issues, including a lack of customer protection measures and insufficient anti-money laundering controls.

Japan remains one of the most welcoming jurisdictions for cryptocurrency trading, but repeated attacks may prompt regulators to reconsider their relatively lax approach. Digital currency exchanges in Japan and elsewhere face a growing threat from cyber criminals looking to capitalize on the rising value of digital assets.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

Rate this post:

Important for improving the service. Please add a comment in the comment field below explaining what you rated and why you gave it that rate. Failed Trade Recommendations should not be rated as that is considered a failure either way.
2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.
Loading...

4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




Feedback or Requests?

Continue Reading

Breaches

Skepticism Grows Over BitGrail’s Supposed $167 Million Hack

Published

on

A relatively unknown cryptocurrency exchange by the name of BitGrail has informed its users of a coordinated cyber attack targeting Nano (XRB) tokens. However, the incident does not appear to be holding up to scrutiny after the founder of the exchange made an odd request to the developers of Nano shortly after discovering the alleged theft.

// -- Discuss and ask questions in our community on Workplace.

BitGrail Exchange Allegedly Compromised

The Italian exchange issued a notice to its clients last week informing them that 17 million XRB tokens were compromised in a cyber attack. The XRB token, formerly known known as Raiblocks, is valued at $9.80 at the time of writing for a total market cap of $1.3 billion. That puts the total monetary loss of the supposed heist at nearly $167 million.

Parts of the notice have been translated into English from the original Italian by Tech Crunch, a media company dedicated to startups and technology news. According to the agency,  BitGrail has stated the following:

“… Internal checks revealed unauthorized transactions which led to a 17 million Nano shortfall, an amount forming part of the wallet managed by BitGrail… Today a charge about those fraudulent activities has been submitted to the competent authorities and now is under police investigation.”

// -- Become a yearly Platinum Member and save 69 USD. Click here to change your current membership -- //

The notice indicated that all transactions have been put on hold until authorities complete their investigation.

Very little is known about BitGrail, as it is not listed among the 183 exchanges whose volume is ranked by CoinMarketCap.

Suspicion Grows

Unlike other crypto heists, the circumstances surrounding the alleged BitGrail attack have been met with widespread suspicion. As David Z. Morris of Fortune rightly notes, this isn’t the first time BitGrail has suspended Nano withdrawals. The same thing happened in early January when the exchange halted not only Nano, but Lisk and CryptoForecast transactions as well.

The suspension was followed by an announcement that the exchange was taking measured steps to verify users and enforce anti-money laundering requirements. It was around this time that users became suspicious that BitGrail was going to cut and run with their tokens.

BitGrail founder Francesco Firano made an unusual request to the developers of Nano following the alleged attack: he asked them to fork their record, a move that would essentially restore the stolen funds.

Nano officially rejected the request on Friday, the day after Firano supposedly discovered the stolen coins. In a post that appeared on the Nano Medium page, the team said:

“We now have sufficient reason to believe that Firano has been misleading the Nano Core Team and the community regarding the solvency of the BitGrail exchange for a significant period of time.”

Last month, hackers made off with more than $400 million worth of NEM tokens stolen from Coincheck, a Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange. The coins have yet to be recovered and the perpetrators remain at large. In 2014, a cyber heist brought down Mt Gox, which was the world’s largest exchange.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

Rate this post:

Important for improving the service. Please add a comment in the comment field below explaining what you rated and why you gave it that rate. Failed Trade Recommendations should not be rated as that is considered a failure either way.
1 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 51 vote, average: 5.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.
Loading...

4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




Feedback or Requests?

Continue Reading

Breaches

Coincheck Hackers Are Trying to Sell Their Stolen NEM Coins

Published

on

hacker extortion bitcoin

The hackers behind the biggest crypto heist of all time are attempting to sell their stolen coins, according to an executive at the NEM Foundation. The revelations are the latest in a four-day saga that has authorities still struggling to identify perpetrators or locate the account in receipt of the stolen funds.

// -- Discuss and ask questions in our community on Workplace.

Hackers Try to Profit

Jeff McDonald, Vice President of the NEM Foundation, said Tuesday that his organization had traced stolen XEM coins to an unidentified address. It was here that the thief tried to unload the stolen funds onto six online exchanges for the purpose of selling them. McDonald said the exchanges have since been notified.

It was not immediately apparent how many of the stolen coins were spent or even the whereabouts of the account. A spokeswoman at the NEM Foundation later said the attacker sent the cryptocurrency to several random accounts in 100-token increments.

Last Friday, the attackers made off with more than $400 million worth of NEM tokens from Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck. The monetary value of the heist has fluctuated several times over the past four days, reflecting regular price moves in NEM’s native XEM token. However, Coincheck said it would reimburse account holders at a rate of 81 U.S. cents per token, which reflects the average price between Jan. 26 and 27.

// -- Become a yearly Platinum Member and save 69 USD. Click here to change your current membership -- //

Coincheck has been fined administrative penalties for failing to secure client funds. It was later revealed by the executive management team that the exchange failed to implement basic security features, such as multi-signature capability and cold storage. Rather, the XEM tokens were held in accounts connected to the internet.

Although the NEM Foundation is trying to prevent the liquidation of stolen funds, MacDonald said the attackers will likely get away with some of the money. However, the likelihood that they spend all of it is virtually zero given the market’s underlying liquidity constraints.

NEM Price Volatility

News of the heist on Friday triggered significant volatility in the price of XEM and the broader cryptocurrency market. Following a brief recovery, XEM has declined steadily over the past three days, with prices reaching new six-week lows on Tuesday. The coin touched a session low of 79 cents on volumes of more than $32 million. At press time, the coin was worth a little more than 80 cents.

Even with the decline, NEM held on to tenth spot in the global cryptocurrency rankings based on market cap. The coin’s overall value remains well north of $7 billion, according to CCN.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

Rate this post:

Important for improving the service. Please add a comment in the comment field below explaining what you rated and why you gave it that rate. Failed Trade Recommendations should not be rated as that is considered a failure either way.
3 votes, average: 4.33 out of 53 votes, average: 4.33 out of 53 votes, average: 4.33 out of 53 votes, average: 4.33 out of 53 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5 (3 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.
Loading...

4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




Feedback or Requests?

Continue Reading

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

A part of CCN

Hacked.com is Neutral and Unbiased

Hacked.com and its team members have pledged to reject any form of advertisement or sponsorships from 3rd parties. We will always be neutral and we strive towards a fully unbiased view on all topics. Whenever an author has a conflicting interest, that should be clearly stated in the post itself with a disclaimer. If you suspect that one of our team members are biased, please notify me immediately at jonas.borchgrevink(at)hacked.com.

Trending