American officials have concluded that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the hack on Sony Pictures’ computers, which led to the studio’s cancellation of the release of “The Interview,” a comedy about the fictional assassination of North Korea’s leader, reports The New York Times.
The movie’s plot is believed to have sparked the cyberattack from the country. As previously reported, threats from the hackers prompted Sony to shelve the movie.
The White House is debating whether to accuse North Korea of cyberterrorism, the story adds.
“Officials said it was not clear how the White House would respond. Some within the Obama administration argue that the government of Kim Jong-un must be confronted directly,” The Times writes. “But that raises questions of what actions the administration could credibly threaten, or how much evidence to make public without revealing details of how it determined North Korea’s culpability, including the possible penetration of the North’s computer networks.”
North Korean officials may be seeking a direct confrontation, and Japan has argued that a public accusation could impede negotiations between the countries for the return of Japanese nationals who have been kidnapped.
The hackers warned that if “The Interview” were to be released as planned on Dec. 25, “the world will be full of fear.” The warning added, “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.”
The Times adds, “It is not clear how the United States determined that Mr. Kim’s government had played a central role in the Sony attacks. North Korea’s computer network has been notoriously difficult to infiltrate.”