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Source: Yonhap News Agency
According to this report by the Yonhap News Agency, the U.S. did conduct a cyber operation against North Korea, in retaliation for their alleged attack against Sony.
From the article:
North Korea’s Internet connections suffered outages for days in late December after U.S. President Barack Obama blamed the communist nation for the massive hack on Sony and promised a “proportional response.”
If this is true, it is actually quite a scary situation for everyone involved. If you consider that a U.S. company, like Sony, has the U.S. Government to do its bidding for it; it really makes you think. I’m not concerned that that the U.S. has a cyber operations center, we’ve known about it for quite some time; what we haven’t known, is how, when, or why it would lead an attack against a nation. Now we know, all your nation-state has to do, is attack a very large corporation in the U.S. and it will draw the eye of U.S. cyber operations.
What do you think? Do you think the U.S. should launch a full scale cyber assault on a nation because it was behind a supposed “attack” on a large corporation. What is the precedence being set here? If my small business gets attacked by a group in North Korea, will the U.S. launch a full-scale attack against them? What size does my business need to be, where the U.S. government will carry out a full-scale cyber attack against North Korea to defend my business?
More details are being released in regards to North Korea, and the breach that occurred at Sony.
What is now being reported is that the NSA has had access to North Korea’s computer (read: hacked) since 2010. Some are now reporting that the hack at Sony was in retaliation to the hacking that NSA had done against North Korea.
I’m still very hesitant to call the Sony breach as being a hack perpetrated by North Korea, even with the additional evidence/details about NSA being inside North Korea’s computers.
From the article:
As it turns out, the U.S. had some inside information. According to reports from Der Spiegel and The New York Times, the U.S. knew that North Korea hacked Sony because the U.S. had hacked North Korea.
The National Security Agency (NSA), in fact, has had access to North Korean networks and computers since 2010, the Times said. Officials wanted to keep tabs on the country’s nuclear program, its high-ranking officials, and any plans to attack South Korea, according to a document published by Der Spiegel.
North Korea did attack South Korea in 2013, crippling several of the nation’s leading financial and media organizations. At one point, however, the hackers revealed their IP addresses – the same IP addresses that popped up again in the Sony hack.
First, I want to point out, that I’m loving all the info that Krypt3ia is throwing out there.
There has been many battles brewing on the internet, IRC, and twitter about what is going on, and how the U.S. is attributing the Sony hack to North Korea. From everything, I have read, it has been based on circumstantial evidence, primarily from the piece that says U.S. has determined that this is directly linked to North Korea, because a) The vulnerability was developed in the Korean language, and b) Because it uses the same malware, that was attributed to 2 or 3 other breaches, that were also from “North Korea”. I’m not necessarily doubting that the other attacks came from North Korea, but what I want to point out, is that these attacks and vulnerabilities have ways of making themselves known to other people, other groups, other countries; that doesn’t 100% tie attribution to North Korea.
From Krypt3ia’s blog:
Well here we are… It’s the beginning of the cyber wars my friends. POTUS came out on stage and said that we would have a “proportionate response” to the hacking of Sony and that in fact the US believes that it was in fact Kim Jong Un who was behind this whole thing. Yup, time to muster the cyber troops and attack their infrastructure!
Anyways, all credit goes to Krypt3ia for the analysis he has performed on this, and I definitely think you should check out his blog.
I agree, that everyone jumping on the band-wagon, saying that N. Korea is behind this hack is wrong. This is the way I feel about a fair number of security ramblings coming from Mandiant/Fire Eye, Norse, and the rest of the huge companies out there. I think some of their information can be wrong. I also agree with the statements made at Krypt3ia, that we are now at “cyber-war” with North Korea. It feels like another Cold War race, with a lot more countries involved.
However, the really scary part, is that now, foreign influences have now proved, that they can hold United States (and companies within the US) at bay with attacks on there computer infrastructure.
From the article:
Everyone seems to be eager to pin the blame for the Sony hack on North Korea. However, I think it’s unlikely. Here’s why:
1. The broken English looks deliberately bad and doesn’t exhibit any of the classic comprehension mistakes you actually expect to see in “Konglish”. i.e it reads to me like an English speaker pretending to be bad at writing English.
2. The fact that the code was written on a PC with Korean locale & language actually makes it less likely to be North Korea. Not least because they don’t speak traditional “Korean” in North Korea, they speak their own dialect and traditional Korean is forbidden. This is one of the key things that has made communication with North Korean refugees difficult. I would find the presence of Chinese far more plausible. See here – http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/30/world/asia/30iht-dialect.2644361.html?_r=0
This change in language is also most pronounced when it comes to special words, such as technical terms. That’s possibly because in South Korea, many of these terms are “borrowed” from other languages, including English. For example, the Korean word for “Hellicopter” is: 헬리콥터 or hellikobteo. The North Koreans, on the other hand, use a literal translation of “vehicle that goes straight up after takeoff”. This is because such borrowed words are discouraged, if not outright forbidden, in North Korea – http://pinyin.info/news/2005/ban-loan-words-says-north-korea/
Lets not forget also that it is *trivial* to change the language/locale of a computer before compiling code on it.