The latest development in the story of the Sony Pictures cyber attack has seen the FBI officially name North Korea as responsible.
After a lengthy investigation, with official sources consistently refusing to name the source of the attack, the FBI statement has led to calls for definitive action against the North Korean regime. “The FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions,” the statement read.
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Sony hack attack: The evidence against North Korea
The multi-agency investigation analysed the malware used to infiltrate Sony systems, and “revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed.” The bureau discovered that several IP addresses with “known North Korean infrastructure” were used to communicate with the malware.
The FBI also noticed similarities with the techniques used during a North-Korean cyber attack on South Korean banks and media companies in 2013.
Yesterday the White House stated that it was treating the hack as a national security matter, and the FBI stated that “cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States.” It would appear that long-held predictions of the growing importance of cyber warfare are coming to fruition.
Sony hack attack: Political implications
Although China is a traditional ally of North Korea, it is not implicated in this latest attack. With full responsibility attributed to North Korea, President Obama is coming under increasing pressure to make a strong response. John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., called for the reintroduction of economic sanctions and North Korea to be put “back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.”
He claimed that anything less than a strong response would encourage other countries to believe that they would go unpunished for carrying out cyber attacks on the U.S.. So far the White House has remained cautious, with Press Secretary Josh Earnest stating the need for a “proportional response,” and claiming that the government would not be provoked into playing into the hands of its enemies.
Calls for improved cyber defense capabilities have been growing, and one bill on cyber security has already passed Congress. The fact that a hostile foreign government can cause such damage to a U.S. company will hopefully provide the impetus needed to make both the public and private sector sit up and take notice of the importance of cyber defense.