Headlines have been ripe for months with accusations of North Korea repeatedly hacking into Sony Pictures’ heavily protected network database. Because of the repeated hacks — which are thought by experts, not the US government, to have gone on for a year before they were discovered in November 2014 — over 100 terabytes of private emails, health records, and private salaries were leaked from Sony’s private network for the world to see.
The hackers not only broke into the system to steal a vast amount of private information, they also left behind a malware known as a wiper that permanently erased data from Sony’s servers. This malware is what finally shone light on the hacking. Through various sharing sites content from the database began to leak and messages were left for Sony with the group responsible identifying themselves as the Guardians of Peace (GOP).
A few short days later President Obama called the action an act of terrorism after the FBI stated North Korea was to blame. Why? Because they claim the malware was encrypted with the same computer language that was used to hack South Korea’s banking system in 2013. As well, messages were sent to Sony employees threatening further attacks if the movie The Interview — where two Americans are sent undercover to assassinate Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s dictator — was released to the public, which was scheduled for Christmas day 2014.
The movie was cancelled for release in theatre, but was still released on many online movie sources.
Contrary to the FBI’s conclusions, though, not only North Korea’s government, but top hackers from around the world have come out to state the controversial country has nothing to do with Sony’s troubles, and they say they can prove it.
“At least one former employee of Sony Corp. may have helped hackers orchestrate the cyber-attack on the company’s film and TV unit, according to security researcher Norse Corp.” —Bloomberg.
According to Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse — a leading cybersecurity firm who launched a private investigation into the matter — “When the FBI made this announcement, just a few days after the attack was made public, it raised eyebrows in the [hacker] community because it’s hard to do that kind of an attribution that quickly. It’s almost unheard of.”
So to him, a leading expert in computer hacking and cybersecurity, no one on earth could have traced the hackers as fast as the FBI confirmed North Korea as the culprit.
Stammberger added, “All the leads that we did turn up that had a Korean connection turned out to be dead ends.”
“Stammberger…said he used Sony’s leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack.” —New York Post.
Stammberger’s investigation points towards hackers known for pirating movies online working side-by-side with either one or many former Sony employees who were fired back in May being responsible.
Adding fuel to his findings, the technical expert reminded Bloomberg News in a phone interview that the Guardians of Peace started by simply trying to extort Sony; they said nothing about The Interview being released until after North Korea had already publicly condemned the movie.
After the FBI got involved and threats came in referencing the movie, the news reports went wild blaming North Korea with no ifs, ands, or buts. Soon after, through the collaborative site GitHub.com, the GOP released a statement that plainly said, “We know nothing about the threatening email received by Sony staffers.”
That didn’t change the American government’s minds. Not in the least. In fact, Kurt Stammberger has since met with agents of the FBI to share his cybersecurity firm’s findings, and the FBI has disregarded all of them. To them, it was North Korea no matter what the experts, the GOP, or the evidence says, even though all three unconnected parties agree completely.
They’re not the only ones, though:
“While the hackers have identified themselves only as Guardians of Peace, emails pointing journalists to allegedly stolen files posted on a site called Pastebin came from a sender named “Nicole Basile.” A woman by that name is credited on IMDb as an accountant on the studio’s 2012 hit film The Amazing Spider-Man, and her LinkedIn page says she worked at Sony for one year in 2011. Basile couldn’t be reached for comment and the studio declined to confirm if she works or has worked there.” —Hollywood Researcher.” —the Hollywood Reporter.
Another cybersecurity expert named Hemanshu Nigam — founder of SSP Blue and a man who has worked for over 20-years in the industry alongside big corporations and governments, has also voiced his doubt that North Korea committed the hacks. Like all of the parties, other than the US government, who has looked into the case, Nigam feels the person who committed the hacks had to have had access to the system from the inside at some point. According to him:
“If terabytes of data left the Sony networks, their network detection systems would have noticed easily. It would also take months for a hacker to figure out the topography of the Sony networks to know where critical assets are stored and to have access to the decryption keys needed to open up the screeners that have been leaked… Hackers don’t use such things as Hushmail, Dropbox and Facebook when they want to engage in what amounts to criminal activity. Real hackers know that these sites collect access logs, IP addresses and work with law enforcement. It is possible that North Korean-sponsored hackers were working with someone on the inside. But it is more likely a ruse to shift blame, knowing the distaste the North Korean regime has for Sony Pictures.” —Hemanshu Nigam on the Sony hackers.
Simply put, the networks that were hacked within the Sony system were targeted, and only locatable by someone who already knew where to look. As Hemanshu Nigam aptly stated, it’s more likely North Korea is being conveniently scapegoated for their regime making public their distaste for The Interview — which is understandable, as it’s a movie about their leader being killed by the CIA.
Former Anonymous and LulzSec hacker Hector ‘Sabu’ Monsegur — who committed some of the most notorious cyber attacks against corporations in America before being caught and turning informant — is another expert, one of the best ever, who doesn’t buy the FBI’s story that North Korea committed the hacks. He says they simply lack the capability to commit such a cyber attack.
“Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean Internet completely. They don’t have the technical capabilities.” —Sabu Monsegur, Afterdawn News.
Despite all of these experts speaking out against the FBI’s conclusions, Obama is still dropping threats against North Korea, sticking by his speech writers opinion that this was a deliberate terrorist attack against America’s safety. The question remains: why?
By Olan Thomas of CUT2THETRUTH.com.
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