On the 24th November 2014, Sony Pictures had a shit storm unleashed. Hackers managed to gain access to their internal networks and arm themselves with sensitive documents on an unprecedented scale, not only that but they also managed to swipe early “screener” versions of some of the latest unreleased Sony movies.
The group behind the attack, Guardians of Peace gave Sony a deadline by releasing a text list of files that they had acquired via the hack. The group stated that they would continue to release files from the cache unless “our request be met”. Strangely there appears to be no knowledge of what their requests were and with the unknown demands not met, the group proceeded to release certain files including the handful of unreleased films and information pertaining to celebrities and employees of Sony including sensitive material such as social security numbers and more.
The tale takes an interesting twist with the FBI and other organisations pointing the finger of responsibility at North Korea. North Korea is the insular dictatorship that has little contact with the outside world. Sony was due to release a film called The Interview which in the comedy movie, a plot to assassinate the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un made the storyline.
With the release imminent, Sony decided to cancel cinema screenings in the US across the nation after threats of 9/11 style incidents came to light. The cancellation of the movie was condemned by both the industry, public and the president of the United States himself. The cancellation was seen as backing down to aggressors, either the dictatorship country that is North Korea or wherever the source of the hack originated from.
Questions have been raised if North Korea really could be behind the latest Sony hack. While there is evidence to suggest they could, there are also clues leading to the conclusion that they aren’t responsible, information most convincing is the fact that the group suddenly attached itself to The Interview topic after the press had made the North Korean connection.
Regardless of who carried out the attack, it only further goes to reaffirm that while users and employees can take extra precautions to safeguard their own persona data and details, the weakest link in the chain is always the one that leads to exposure and when your employer may just well be that weakest link there is very little you can do to secure yourself in such circumstances.
The Sony hack debate has reached the upper echelons of government with president Barack Obama wading in to the ring proclaiming that the US will respond to the hack that the FBI are pinning on North Korea. Obama stated that Sony had “made a mistake” regarding the cancellation of the movie reiterating that the US will “respond proportionately”.
Playing down the importance of the North Korean leader, Obama continued stating that US society cannot let “some dictator some place” impose censorship in the United States. The US with its long standing tradition of freedom of speech and expression seem rather battled by the latest move with US movie stars also lending words of bemusement over the cancellation.
In the latest twist to the tale, North Korea itself has denied responsibility, although claiming that their dictatorship has many sympathizers around the world. They have offered to take part in a joint inquiry in to the attack with the US to attempt to distance themselves from responsibility. The chances of the US taking up the offer are virtually non-existent and the offer from North Korea is likely to be for publicity reasons more than anything with substance.
North Korea had already reacted angrily towards the movie as far back as June 2014 calling it an “act of war” claiming that if the US administration approves of the movie they will “take a decisive and merciless countermeasure”. Companies such as LiquidVPN have called for intelligence agencies to broadcast the movie widely via whatever means possible to North Korean citizens.
— LiquidVPN (@LiquidVPN) December 20, 2014