Just as Sony Pictures canned the premiere of The Interview, the film that triggered its now-infamous cyber attack, U.S. intelligence sources told The New York Times Wednesday that North Korea was indeed “centrally involved” in the hack.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un previously denied responsibility, but unnamed “senior administration officials” now tell The Times they have reason to believe the country was behind the exploit: Data forensics unearthed a computer that had been previously used in cyberattacks on South Korea. The evidence strongly suggests—though does not definitively prove—North Korea’s involvement.
The White House hasn’t yet decided whether to publicly point any fingers, said the sources, even though it essentially considers the matter a cyberterrorism campaign. But diplomacy is key. Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. could easily escalate—particularly since the latest threats levied by the supposed attackers on Tuesday invoked the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places "The Interview" be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you'd better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
Sony put the kibosh on release plans Wednesday, as several theaters—including Regal Entertainment, AMC Theaters, Cinemark and Carmike Cinemas—canned their plans to show the comedy, which features an assassination plot against Kim Jong Un.
Sources at both NBC News and USA Today have corroborated The New York Times report, those outlets tweeted, though Wired finds the evidence rather weak.
Lead image courtesy of Sony
On Wednesday, hackers claiming to be affiliated with the Syrian Electronic Army may have penetrated the website of the International Business Times, an online business-news publication.
"It does indeed appear that we have been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army," said IB Times editor-in-chief Peter Goodman in an email. "Our IT people are evaluating. We are taking appropriate security measures."
The hackers, who support the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad, appear to have deleted a story about Syria's shrinking army. While it still appears in Google News, the link to the article returns a 404 "page not found" error on the IB Times website.Google News still shows the deleted story.
If the goal was to suppress the article, the hackers weren't completely successful: A version of the article was published with a new URL.
The International Business Times is owned by New York-based IBT Media, which also publishes Newsweek.
Another article with the headline "Hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army" now appears on the website. The article contains a screenshot which appears to be the site's content-management system. Goodman's username appears in the screenshot, along with a notification which indicates the article about Syria's army was successfully deleted.
In the article, hackers threatened to delete the entire IB Times website.
The IB Times Twitter account acknowledged the incident in a tweet:Spear-Phishing The Media
In an email to staff earlier Wednesday, IB Times managing editor Mark Bonner warned staff not to open any emails that appeared to come from IBT Media cofounder and chief content officer Johnathan Davis. Those emails included a link to a suspicious website, according to a source familiar with the incident.
Goodman said it was "unclear at this point, but possible" that his account had been penetrated. An attack like this targeting high-level individuals to obtain their login credentials is known as "spear phishing."
Later on Wednesday, Bonner told staffers that the IB Times content-management system was down and that writers should submit articles to editors via Google Docs. A source confirmed that the screenshot of the IB Times content-management system posted in the "Hacked" article appeared to be authentic.
The IB Times hack comes on the heels of the large-scale hack of Sony Pictures, apparently conducted by hackers who objected to the studio's release of The Interview, a movie about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Sony has cancelled the movie's release amid threats of terrorist attacks on theaters which screen it.
In 2009, Gawker Media, the publisher of Gizmodo, Jezebel, and other websites, experienced a distributed denial-of-service attack aimed at rendering its sites inaccessible. And for four months beginning in late 2012, hackers in China attacked the computer systems of the New York Times, attempting to gain access to email and files.
Together, these incidents suggest we're entering an ugly world where people who object to a movie or a news article on political grounds won't just leave nasty comments or tweet harsh criticisms. They'll seek to eliminate their targets' ability to publish.
Photo by Shutterstock; screenshots via IB Times
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