White House Responds to Sony Hack

In a reality TV script straight out of a James Bond movie, the White House has now entered the fray on the Sony hacking drama. In a statement, the White House said that it was treating the hack as a national security matter. It further added that the hacking was the work of a sophisticated actor but refused to officially point a finger at North Korea. The White House further added that it was preparing a “proportional response” to the attack.

So far, North Korea has denied any involvement in the attack. However in a statement on the state-run KCNA news agency North Korea termed the hack as a “righteous deed” for a movie that “hurt the dignity of its supreme leadership.”

Sony withdrew The Interview, a new movie in which the actors were to go to North Korea and kill Kim Jong-Un. The media company pulled the plug on the movie after threats appeared online warning of consequences to cinema halls that aired the movie. The hackers invoked 9/11 in their message telling moviegoers to “remember the 11th of September 2001,” and warning those who lived nearby to stay “distant” from those movie theaters.

The move by Sony also comes weeks after the same group of hackers first breached Sony’s system and posted private emails and other data online.

Also read: Sony is Counter-Hacking with DDOS Attacks

Inside the Sony Hack

Sony storePreliminary investigations revealed that the hack was not a forced entry. Rather it had the markings of an inside job or the use of stolen credentials. The first emails sent to Sony had to do with blackmail and extortion demands. The malware used in the hack does two things. One, it overwrites data and interrupts execution processes, for example, startup functions. In Sony’s case it knocked off services such as email, which is now known to have been a distraction, while it launched even greater destruction on the Sony system. The malware used can be so destructive that the data is not recoverable, or it becomes too costly to retrieve. It is not clear how long the malware needs to be in the system before it initiates its destructive potential.

Sources further added that the sophistication of the malware was consistent with what has previously been seen from Iran, China and Russia. Initial investigations also show that the attack originated outside North Korea. However, it is believed that the individuals who carried out the attack may have been acting on orders of the North Korean government.

Other North Korea-Themed Projects Shelved

The Interview was not the only Sony project themed on North Korea. Two other projects including Team America and a project that had Pyongyang as a working title had been planned, but it would appear that executives had now pulled the plug on them indefinitely.

The move is likely to embolden other regimes that have hostile relations with the United States and other western interests, into blackmailing movie projects that rub their regimes the wrong way.

On Wednesday, President Obama encouraged Americans to go to the movies, but when life increasingly imitates art, it remains to be seen how many moviegoers will heed the call on movies that anger dictators overseas. It also remains to be seen as to how the general entertainment industry will proceed in a time when governments, hacking groups or lone wolves may wreck havoc on entertainment giants such as Sony and others.

Images from Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock.