Fri, Dec 05, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Sony hacking points to N Korea


Cyberinvestigators looking for the culprits of a devastating hack into Sony Pictures Entertainment have found some links to North Korea — hacking tools similar to those used by that country in previous attacks on South Korea.

A person familiar with the company’s investigation said on Wednesday that investigators hired by the company made the connection as they reviewed evidence left by the hackers.

North Korea has been suggested by some experts as a possible source of the attack that exposed massive volumes of internal company data and shut down the computer systems of one of Hollywood’s biggest studios.

The hacking launched on Nov. 24 came a month before the entertainment unit at Sony Corp is due to release The Interview, a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The Pyongyang government denounced the film as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war” in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in June.

Technology news Web site Re/code reported earlier on Wednesday that Sony intends to name North Korea as the source of the attack. However, when asked about the Re/code report, a Sony spokeswoman said no announcement from the studio was coming.

US national security officials also said government agencies still had not determined whether North Korea was responsible for the Sony Pictures attack.

The hacking has alarmed the government and cybersecurity experts, who say this is the first major attack on a US company to use a highly destructive class of malicious software that is designed to incapacitate computer networks. The FBI issued a warning to US businesses on Monday.

The attack’s ramifications appear to have spread beyond Sony. Information released by the hackers included documents that appeared to detail 2005 salaries and other personnel information from accounting and consulting firm Deloitte & Touche, according to cable news network Fusion.

The data may have come from the computer of a Sony employee who previously worked at Deloitte and had saved some files, Fusion said in its report.

Deloitte spokesman Jonathan Gandal said company officials “have not confirmed the veracity of this information.”

Sony hired security firm FireEye Inc and its Mandiant forensics unit to lead the probe. Mandiant has handled some of the largest data breaches, including last year’s holiday attack on Target Corp.

One national security official said that numerous governments, groups and individuals are capable of mounting sophisticated hacking attacks, and that at this point the offensive on Sony Pictures did not appear particularly unique. Another official said that it was still too soon after the hack to make definitive assessments of responsibility.

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