What These Hack Attack Experts Just Said Means Obama & The FBI May Have Jumped The Sony Gun

Obama Sony Hack

As Western Journalism reported 10 days ago, The FBI has officially named the North Korean government as the culprit behind the hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Even President Obama laid the blame for the massive cyber-security breach at the feet of Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian regime, a presidential move that led to North Korea’s pushing back hard against the accusation, escalating the war of words, as NBC News reported:

North Korea on Saturday accused the U.S. of shutting down internet service to the country in retaliation for its alleged hacking attack on Sony, and referred to President Barack Obama as “a monkey” in blaming him for the release of “The Interview.”

Now there’s a new development in the Sony saga that could support North Korea’s claim that it was not involved in the security breach or the posted threats related to the movie “The Interview.”

A number of news outlets, including politico.com, are reporting that web experts from a leading cyber intelligence company have presented an alternate theory of the attack to FBI agents investigating the Sony security breach.

According to these experts, the Sony hack was likely an inside job:

FBI agents investigating the Sony Pictures hack were briefed Monday by a security firm that says its research points to laid-off Sony staff, not North Korea, as the perpetrator….

Researchers from the cyber intelligence company Norse have said their own investigation into the data on the Sony attack doesn’t point to North Korea at all and instead indicates some combination of a disgruntled employee and hackers for piracy groups is at fault.

As of now, though, the FBI is standing by its rather rapidly drawn conclusion that North Korea was behind the devastating attack that has been so costly for Sony and its management.

“The FBI has concluded the Government of North Korea is responsible for the theft and destruction of data on the network of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Attribution to North Korea is based on intelligence from the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community, DHS, foreign partners and the private sector,” a spokeswoman [for the FBI] said in a statement.

Officials for the security firm Norse say they have uncovered evidence on six individuals primarily involved in the attack, including an ex-employee of Sony with detailed insider knowledge of the company’s IT network:

…a former decade-long Sony veteran who “worked in a technical role” and was laid off in May.

Norse previously identified the ex-employee as “Lena,” and said she claimed to have connection to the “Guardians of Peace” hacker group that took credit for the attack against Sony, which has so far resulted in leaked employee information, executives’ emails, unreleased films and the limiting of “The Interview” theatrical release in response to a terrorist threat.

And as the story of the Sony Hack attack continues to develop like the plot of a spy movie, questions are now being asked as to why President Obama and the FBI would rush to the public with their conclusions about an ongoing investigation and unsolved multi-faceted mystery that intrigues numerous cyber detectives outside of government.

Security expert Bruce Schneier called the evidence “circumstantial at best” and considered a number of other possible explanations.

CloudFlare principal researcher and DefCon official Marc Rogers wrote that the FBI’s indicators seem to rely on malware that is widely available for purchase and IP addresses easily hijacked by any bad guy.

Errata Security’s Robert Graham also noted the hacker underground shares plenty of code, calling the FBI’s evidence “nonsense.”

 

Image Credits: twitter

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

State Department Spokeswoman Does Not Deny US Involvement In North Korea’s Internet Outage

nkoreastatedept

State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf was involved in a tense back and forth with CNN reporter Elise Labott Tuesday, who asked Harf whether or not the United States had any responsibility in North Korea’s internet outage Monday.

“This isn’t our internet, Elise,” Harf asserted, before being pressed by Labott about whether or not the United States undertook “any type of cyber operations that could have led to the North Korean internet being down.”

Harf ultimately replied by dissuading any notion that she would have any new information on the matter:

“I don’t have anything new to share with you today about North Korea. The President has spoken to what our potential response is separate and apart from what we’ve seen over the last 24 hours might be. And I’d leave it to the North Koreans to talk about if their internet was up, if it wasn’t, and why.

“We’re just not going to entertain questions one way or the other about – any of these questions about possible U.S. responses of any kind. And I would caution you from assuming that because I’m not going to comment on them that the answer means one thing or the other.”

As KPCC points out, North Korea experienced nationwide internet outages late Monday before having service restored 9 1/2 hours later. One computer expert said service was “totally down.”

On Monday, Harf did not deny American involvement. “We aren’t going to discuss, you know, publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in any way except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen,” she said.

But one day later, Harf’s tone was more muted:

“I can’t confirm the reports that it actually wasn’t. So I would check with [the North Koreans]. They are certainly the right people to speak to this, and I don’t have much more on this.”

 

h/t Mediaite

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

US Finds North Korea “Certainly Involved” In Cyberattack On Sony

Photo credit: youtube

American officials have concluded that North Korea was “certainly involved” in the cyberattack on Sony over “The Interview,” a comedic movie that included the assassination of Kim Jong-un.

Officials said that the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of a cyberattack or not.

Sony decided to cancel the movie’s release after additional threats from the hackers were made–even the theaters themselves might have been hacked if the movie was released.

Some officials within the administration argue that it is time to call out and confront North Korea, while others say that such an action is precisely what North Korea wants.

Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said that the US government is “considering a range of options in weighing a potential response.”

Hours before the Sony announcement to cancel the movie, four prominent US theater chains- Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, and Carmike Cinemas- said that they would not be showing the movie.

A warning this week to Sony’s computers said that if “The Interview” was released, the “world would be full of fear.”

The warning said: “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.”

Intelligence officials have concluded that the attack was both state-sponsored and more devastating than any cyberattack on American soil.

One intelligence official commented that “this was of a sophistication that a year ago we would have said was beyond the North’s capabilities.”

What do you think the US government’s response to the cyberattack should be?

 

h/t: NY Times

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Ouch: Pentagon Contradicts Obama’s Claims About North Korea

Photo credit: cmccain202dc (Flickr)

U.S. officials have long been concerned about the technology-sharing relationship that North Korea has with Iran and Pakistan. At the heart of their concern — North Korea’s desire and determination to become a nuclear force, which would dramatically change the world’s balance of power.

And what military officials just disclosed could also have a big impact on the balance of power on Capitol Hill.

Today, the Pentagon let it be known that North Korea has likely moved a giant step closer to being able to deploy a nuclear weapon on a guided missile.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a top U.S. commander now says that the regime of dictator Kim Jong Un likely has the capability to produce a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a rocket.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. forces on the Korean peninsula, said North Korea now is capable of building a miniaturized nuclear warhead, a step needed to complete development of a nuclear-tipped missile.

Gen. Scaparrotti said the U.S. hasn’t seen North Korea test a miniaturized nuclear weapon, but that it likely has the capability to build one.

In a rather strange turn of events, not far away from where the Pentagon briefing disclosed North Korea’s nuclear weapons advancement, Secretary of State John Kerry was making his own announcement about relations with Pyongyang.

Specifically, Kerry spoke about the connection between Kim Jong Un’s willingness to roll back his nuclear program and the reduction of U.S. forces in the Korean Peninsula.

And the two D.C. events — at the Pentagon and at the State Department — seemed, at least on the surface, to be at odds in terms of tone and messaging.

As reported by Reuters:

It is too premature to talk about reducing American forces in the Korean Peninsula without “authentic and credible” negotiations with Pyongyang about ending its nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.

Kerry said the United States was willing to restart denuclearization talks with North Korea although he emphasized “there is no value in talks just for the sake of talks.”

The U.S. presence in South Korea is a key source of anger for North Korea, which regularly threatens to attack the United States and destroy the South [Korea] in a sea of flames.

Given the advisory issued by the Pentagon, it sounds as though North Korea may be a big step closer to creating that destructive “sea of flames.”

Given the American public’s growing dissatisfaction with Obama’s foreign policy — a month ago, the president’s foreign policy approval rating hit an all-time low — it’s certainly possible that this news about North Korea will be a further drag on Democrat hopes of retaining Senate control.

Photo credit: cmccain202dc (Flickr)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

BREAKING: ‘Desperate’ American Imprisoned In North Korea Released ‘Out Of The Blue’

fowler

According to a CNN report Tuesday, American citizen Jeffrey Fowle is on his way back to the U.S. after spending months in the custody of North Korean authorities. As Western Journalism previously reported, Fowle was arrested for “hostile acts against the country” for leaving a Bible in his hotel room.

He was one of at least three Americans facing trial under the secretive authoritarian regime of Kim Jong Un.

News that Fowle had been cleared to leave North Korea “came out of the blue,” according to CNN. The network reported that an American plane landed in the capital city of Pyongyang to pick up the 56-year-old Dayton, Ohio resident. He later touched down in Guam on his way back home.

Last month, he described his plight to reporters.

“I need to let people know,” he said, “that I’m getting desperate. I’m getting desperate for help.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Fowle’s release Tuesday, saying that the Obama administration “welcome[s] the decision” and calls on North Korea to release Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae, the remaining Americans being held in the nation.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom