“Hackers who knocked Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer systems offline last week used tools very similar to those used last year to attack South Korean television stations and ATMs, people briefed on the investigation said,” reports The Wall Street Journal. [NOTE: The WSJ is behind a firewall and may charge you to read its article.]
The story reports: “The similarity would reinforce a hunch among some investigators, which include Sony, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a team from Silicon Valley security company FireEye Inc., that North Korea played a role in the breach at the film and television studio, one of the largest in the U.S.”
The article notes: “Sony Pictures is set to release this month ‘The Interview,’ a comedy in which U.S. spies enlist a television host played by James Franco and his producer, played by Seth Rogen, to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In June, a spokesman for the Pyongyang government said distribution of the movie would be ‘the most undisguised terrorism and a war action’ and threatened a ‘strong and merciless countermeasure’ if the U.S. government ‘patronizes the film.’ ”
According to Reuters, in light of the cyber attack on Sony, “The Federal Bureau of Investigation [has] warned U.S. businesses that hackers have used malicious software to launch a destructive cyber attack in the United States.”
The Reuters story adds that according to experts the attack against Sony “would mark first major destructive cyber attack waged against a company on U.S. soil. Such attacks have been launched in Asia and the Middle East, but none have been reported in the United States. The FBI report did not say how many companies had been victims of destructive attacks.”
Reuters quotes Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer with security software maker Trend Micro Inc., saying: “I believe the coordinated cyberattack with destructive payloads against a corporation in the U.S. represents a watershed event. Geopolitics now serve as harbingers for destructive cyber attacks.”
The Wall Street Journal story adds: “Employees at the Sony Corp.-owned studio behind ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and hit TV show ‘The Blacklist’ have been forced to work with cellphones and personal email accounts since images of a skull appeared on company computers last week along with the message ‘Hacked by #GOP.’ Employees were warned by Sony not to use any digital devices connected to its internal networks. The hacker group, known as ‘Guardians of Peace,’ hasn’t revealed any details about its identity or provided Sony with a list of demands.”
The following is from ‘The Frame,” a new show on Los Angeles-based NPR outlet KPCC about the entertainment industry, hosted by veteran entertainment reporter John Horn:
Sony appears to have been so badly compromised that [Clifford Neuman, director of USC’s Center for Computer Systems Security] speculated that the company has no choice but to completely rebuild its network from the ground up.
“That’s a very long process, but it’s something that they have to do in the long term and is something similar studios should probably be looking at now,” said Neuman.
Sony’s computer breach a week ago could have serious box-office consequences, as five DVD-quality rips of the films [“Fury,” “Annie,” “Still Alice,” “Mr. Turner” and “To Write Love on Her Arms”] appear on piracy hubs. It could also impede the studio’s Oscar campaign. …
In a message left on Sony computer screens last week, the hackers … said: “We’ve obtained all your internal data including your secrets and top secrets.” If the studio didn’t obey the hackers, they threatened to release the data “to the world.”
The appearance of the pirated films may be the hackers making good on their threat.
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