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FBI confirms North Korea behind Sony hack


WASHINGTON - The FBI confirmed Friday that North Korea was behind the cyber attacks on Sony Pictures.

"As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions,'' a FBI statement said.

"While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks."

"We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there,'' the FBI said in the brief statement.

"Further, North Korea's attack on SPE (Sony Pictures Entertainment) reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States.''

The FBI said that it had "determined that the intrusion into SPE's network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees' personally identifiable information and confidential communications.''

"The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE's computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company's business operations.''

While it has seen a rising number of cyber breaches, "the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart," the FBI said.

"North Korea's actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves,'' the FBI said. "Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.''

In addition to the coding similarities, the FBI said it had found other evidence of North Korea's involvement, including the discovery of several Internet addresses "associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hard-coded into the data deletion malware used in this attack."

Also, the FBI found that tools used in the Sony attack were similar to an attack launched last March against South Korean banks and media outlets carried out by North Korea.

Conflicting messages about The Interview and its fate appeared late Thursday night. One, posted publicly, told the studio it has "suffered enough" and is free to release The Interview.

At the same time, a private message sent to some Sony executives Thursday night told them they had made a "very wise" decision when they cancelled the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy, sources at Sony told USA TODAY on background.

The dueling messages are diametrically opposed.

The private message read, "Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy," adding "And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately."

That's a very different one from the a public posting, also made late Thursday night, to Pastebin, an online file-sharing website. The hackers have been using Pastebin to release their messages for the past several weeks.

The full text of the Pastebin posting read:

This is GOP.

You have suffered through enough threats.

We lift the ban.

The Interview may release now.

But be carful.

September 11 may happen again if you don't comply with the rules.

Rule #1: no death scene of Kim Jong Un being too happy

Rule #2: do not test us again

Rule #3: if you make anything else, we will be here ready to fight

It is impossible to know if the Pastebin message is actually from the Guardians of Peace, the shadowy hacker group that claims to have infiltrated Sony's computer network and stolen millions of files.

source: usatoday.com(http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2014/12/19/sony-the-interview-hackers-gop/20635449/)
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