FBI, NSA Claim Smoking Gun Links North Korea to Sony Hack - Update

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FBI, NSA Claim Smoking Gun Links North Korea to Sony Hack - Update

Hollywood Kim Jong-un 350x

According to FBI director James Comey, the Guardians of Peace got a little sloppy during the network breach.

Update: Earlier speculation about the NSA assisting in the government's Sony Pictures hack investigation has turned out to be correct.

While speaking at a cybersecurity conference yesterday at Fordham University, NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers confirmed what many had suspected all along. "...we were asked to provide our technical expertise," said Admiral Rogers during the FBI's International Conference on Cyber Security. "We were asked to take a look at the malware, we were asked to take a look at not just the data that was being generated from Sony but also what data could we bring to the table.

"We were part of a broad interagency effort, not in the lead role-the Federal Bureau of Investigation was the overall lead."

Admiral Rogers went on to agree with FBI director James Comey, saying "...I remain very confident-that this was North Korea."

Based on some of your comments, I'm not sure that any of this latest revelation comes as a surprise. With the amount of network monitoring, signals intelligence, and data analysis done by the National Security Agency, it would be more of a surprise if they weren't involved. [Source: The Intercept]

Original Story: FBI director James Comey has revealed why the feds named North Korea as the prime suspect in the Sony Pictures hack investigation.

While speaking at a cybersecurity conference in New York City today, Comey said that the Guardians of Peace, the hacker group that breached Sony's network, did a poor job of masking IP addresses, which allowed the FBI to trace Internet connections used during the attack back to North Korea. Internet access in North Korea is tightly regulated, and controlled by the government with near-total exclusivity, so the involvement of private citizens (or rather, hackers who are not working for the North Korean government) is seen as unlikely by the FBI.

"We know who hacked Sony. It was the North Koreans," said director Comey to the audience, according to The Verge. "I have very high confidence about this attribution."

The IP address masking, which (if true) is the FBI's strongest evidence yet, was not included in the government's initial report on the investigation. That report, among other findings, pointed to malware and other tools used in the Sony Pictures hack that "the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed."

There is also speculation that classified NSA tools like Xkeyscore helped the government trace the attack back to North Korea. Given the shadowy nature of such tools, that part of the investigation might never be clarified.

Since the hack went public, and both media and political focus on North Korea's suspected involvement intensified, there has been doubt from security experts on the country's role in the hack, if any. Norse security revealed an "inside job" theory of its own (with no apparent link to North Korea), and other theories have been covered as well.

North Korea's involvement is linked to The Interview, the Sony Pictures film about a TV personality (James Franco) and his producer (Seth Rogen) who are tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. After the Sony Pictures hack, The Interview went from a Christmas release, to cancelled, to a limited release, to widely available online (via YouTube and iTunes).

Source: The Verge
Image Credit: Elle Hardy (Twitter)

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I'm not really one for politics and stuff, but considering how bad the North Korean government is can't we or some other country go in and topple them? Or do we have to wait for North Korea to actually do something terrible like invade South Korea for real and slaughter hundreds of innocent people before we actually do something? I'm pretty sure there is a good explanation but I have yet to see it.

T-Shirt Turtle:
I'm not really one for politics and stuff, but considering how bad the North Korean government is can't we or some other country go in and topple them? Or do we have to wait for North Korea to actually do something terrible like invade South Korea for real and slaughter hundreds of innocent people before we actually do something? I'm pretty sure there is a good explanation but I have yet to see it.

Attacking North Korea would set off a chain of events that could effectively lead to a World War III scenario. China and Japan would both get involved, which means Taiwan gets involved. And there's a chance that a conflict in that region would also pull in Russia and India. It would be a long-term clusterfuck of the highest order.

-Devin Connors

Devin Connors:

T-Shirt Turtle:
I'm not really one for politics and stuff, but considering how bad the North Korean government is can't we or some other country go in and topple them? Or do we have to wait for North Korea to actually do something terrible like invade South Korea for real and slaughter hundreds of innocent people before we actually do something? I'm pretty sure there is a good explanation but I have yet to see it.

Attacking North Korea would set off a chain of events that could effectively lead to a World War III scenario. China and Japan would both get involved, which means Taiwan gets involved. And there's a chance that a conflict in that region would also pull in Russia and India. It would be a long-term clusterfuck of the highest order.

-Devin Connors

Mmm, yea. Now that I sat back and thought about it I can see why nothing has been done. I guess I'm just really tired of constantly hear about how bad North Korea is and just with something could be done so people will shut up about it.

Devin Connors:

T-Shirt Turtle:
I'm not really one for politics and stuff, but considering how bad the North Korean government is can't we or some other country go in and topple them? Or do we have to wait for North Korea to actually do something terrible like invade South Korea for real and slaughter hundreds of innocent people before we actually do something? I'm pretty sure there is a good explanation but I have yet to see it.

Attacking North Korea would set off a chain of events that could effectively lead to a World War III scenario. China and Japan would both get involved, which means Taiwan gets involved. And there's a chance that a conflict in that region would also pull in Russia and India. It would be a long-term clusterfuck of the highest order.

-Devin Connors

That and you cannot really justify any form of armed retaliation against a country that has done nothing to your country in recent years other than hack a movie company and throw around some evidently empty threats. Economic sanctions are punishment enough if you ask me, and I'd really rather not have a nuclear war in my lifetime thank you very much.

OT: Something tells me that "did a poor job of masking IP addresses, which allowed the FBI to trace Internet connections used during the attack back to North Korea. " sounds a little too easy, but that being said, I am a teenager sitting at home on my computer, and this is a government funded intelligence agency with some of the most qualified people in the world under its employ, so I'm sure they know what they're doing and talking about.

Laggyteabag:

OT: Something tells me that "did a poor job of masking IP addresses, which allowed the FBI to trace Internet connections used during the attack back to North Korea. " sounds a little too easy, but that being said, I am a teenager sitting at home on my computer, and this is a government funded intelligence agency with some of the most qualified people in the world under its employ, so I'm sure they know what they're doing and talking about.

It IS completely possible that if they were the one, a boneheaded maneuver could have taken place. However, the FBI may be simplifying what happened for a news report, as well. What constitutes 'a little sloppy' for the FBI may be rather hard to find for the average decent computer user. It could be that they pushed passed several redirections and proxies to find a North Korean address and deemed that sloppy by their standards, which would technically be true.

OT: So...justice be done, I guess?

T-Shirt Turtle:
I'm not really one for politics and stuff, but considering how bad the North Korean government is can't we or some other country go in and topple them? Or do we have to wait for North Korea to actually do something terrible like invade South Korea for real and slaughter hundreds of innocent people before we actually do something? I'm pretty sure there is a good explanation but I have yet to see it.

China has traditionally protected and semi supported North Korea. Back in the day it was of course because of a combination of being fellow communist bloc nations allied with the Soviets, combined with the PRC seeing intervention in korea by western powers as colonialist as well as a threat to them. (It didn't help that Gen Macarthur overstepped his authority during the Korean War, and invaded NK all the way to the Chinese border. That, by the way, is what promoted china to enter the war on NK's side, and why Truman fired him.)

Anyway, at the risk of oversimplifying, these days China sees NK both as a useful buffer (increasingly less important), and as a useful way of asserting its regional hegemony. Lots of observers way smarter than me have also noted that China seems to be largely not down with North Korea anymore, seeing it as kind of a pain in the ass, and given how China has turned into what amounts to a corporate state, that makes sense. But I bet they're they're not going to want to see a reunited Korea, since it is aost certain that the result would be similar to German unification, where East Germany just became West Germanyized. If NK becomes less insane, you can bet China wants that to happen on its terms.

I also would bet that the Taiwan issue is at play too. The US has a really complex, kind of dumb relationship to Taiwan. While technically we recognize only the PRC as China, we also have the Taiwan relations act, passed during the reagan years, that asserts we won't be changing our position on Taiwanese sovereignty despite the fact we no longer formally recognize it as a country,and that we won't stop selling them weapons. Since then, we've seen GWB pretty much declare we would go to war if China tried ti forcibly absorb Taiwan into China, and Obama agree to sell them weapons, which really pissed China off in 2010

Annnnyway, if we invaded NK, China wouldn't like it anymore than if China invaded Taiwan. War with NK would be easy, war with china probably impossible to win, and potentially economically ruinous even if we could. China might also respond by invading Taiwan. As devin points out, many other nations could get involved, and you have possible WW3. My guess, unsupported by anything, is that eventually the US and China will come to some sort of agreement involving them supporting regine change in NK and us not giving a crap about Taiwan being made the 23rd province officially.

Smells really fishy... Electronic traces, no people as witnesses... I would still bet money on a small group of hackers wanting to make some noise. I surely doubt North Korea has any real interest in taking out people who disapprove of their leader outside of their borders.

If so why not do it in a way that makes a deep impact. Smaller groups have done atrocious acts with much less funds.

No smells more like good business/politics. Make the best of a incident by telling that the enemy is a foreign invader and not people from the western world. and/or help a corporation make money to recoup their loses.

Thoughts?

modern China hates/is deeply aggravated by NK.

they see it as, and this is a direct quote from the Chinese government, "a petulant child"...i think it might even have been "petulant, unwanted, child" tbh...

what they actually want is (peaceful) reunification with the resultant country ending up basically being the south taking over the rest (much like West and East German reunification) and able to trade with China direct across the land boarder they have with the North (which would obviously be hugely economically beneficial for them).

it's all in "the cables leaks" that were leaked by wikileaks. there is a lot of back and forth between the US and China about NK and it's very eye opening stuff. well worth a read if you want to peer behind the geopoltical curtain.

but they can't withdraw all (or even much) support/aid because there would be a huge humanitarian disaster if they did.

as for the rest of the report i find this odd as the most recent reports i have seen suggested "an inside job"...although i suppose there no real reason both could not be true...although that would seem to suggest "sleeper agents" inside sony which seems a bit far fetched....and overly convenient...

T-Shirt Turtle:

Devin Connors:

T-Shirt Turtle:
I'm not really one for politics and stuff, but considering how bad the North Korean government is can't we or some other country go in and topple them? Or do we have to wait for North Korea to actually do something terrible like invade South Korea for real and slaughter hundreds of innocent people before we actually do something? I'm pretty sure there is a good explanation but I have yet to see it.

Attacking North Korea would set off a chain of events that could effectively lead to a World War III scenario. China and Japan would both get involved, which means Taiwan gets involved. And there's a chance that a conflict in that region would also pull in Russia and India. It would be a long-term clusterfuck of the highest order.

-Devin Connors

Mmm, yea. Now that I sat back and thought about it I can see why nothing has been done. I guess I'm just really tired of constantly hear about how bad North Korea is and just with something could be done so people will shut up about it.

The worst part is that the people that would probably suffer the most from any action such as that are the people that we (the more civilized but still somewhat barbaric part of the world) would be trying to help: The North Korean citizens.

RossaLincoln:
... War with NK would be easy,...

That's what we thought the LAST time we went to war with NK and in case you aren't aware of the outcome we ALL lost that one.

Kuala BangoDango:

RossaLincoln:
... War with NK would be easy,...

That's what we thought the LAST time we went to war with NK and in case you aren't aware of the outcome we ALL lost that one.

Aye, and we'd all "lose" the next one too, if Iraq is any indication.
Warfare isn't the same as policing. In warfare, you play for keeps and the U.S. is in no position to actually play for keeps without everyone else becoming fearful (or angry).

If North Korea ever succeeds in launching attacks against U.S. targets (especially on U.S. soil)...oh man.
Life is going to get "interesting".

Well at least now they've stated some facts as to why they suspect NK. All the blind accusations were getting somewhat old.

And yes, the FBI could have just made the whole thing up... but really if we are at that point that when the government tells us things, we automatically assume they are lying, then we have bigger issues than NK.

Laggyteabag:

Anyway, at the risk of oversimplifying, these days China sees NK both as a useful buffer (increasingly less important), and as a useful way of asserting its regional hegemony. Lots of observers way smarter than me have also noted that China seems to be largely not down with North Korea anymore, seeing it as kind of a pain in the ass, and given how China has turned into what amounts to a corporate state, that makes sense. But I bet they're they're not going to want to see a reunited Korea, since it is aost certain that the result would be similar to German unification, where East Germany just became West Germanyized. If NK becomes less insane, you can bet China wants that to happen on its terms.

So why don't China just send men in to kill the Kim family and install their own, saner puppet?

Laggyteabag:
[quote="Devin Connors" post="7.868415.21734552"]That and you cannot really justify any form of armed retaliation against a country that has done nothing to your country in recent years other than hack a movie company and throw around some evidently empty threats.

Like that has ever stopped the US at any point in the past.

Toadfish1:
]So why don't China just send men in to kill the Kim family and install their own, saner puppet?

The UN for one.
Even if they somehow get tied up
Japan, ROC, and US will not sit idly by.
Chinas best hand right now is to maintain the status quo and reap all the cheep coal they can get from the DPAC.

direkiller:

Toadfish1:
]So why don't China just send men in to kill the Kim family and install their own, saner puppet?

The UN for one.
Even if they somehow get tied up
Japan, ROC, and US will not sit idly by.
Chinas best hand right now is to maintain the status quo and reap all the cheep coal they can get from the DPAC.

1. The fuck does China care about what the UN thinks? THE human rights atrocities they've got, and you think China cares what the UN says? And why would the US or Japan care if China killed Kim Jong Un? Both hate the Kim family specifically and like China. China is the one with a good reason to utterly despise Japan, not the other way around.

An IP address is not proof. By law. For a reason.

It's called spoofing.

To be blunt, any moron can pretend to have a North Korean IP. I used to do South Korea all the time to bypass region specific IP filters to play Ragnarok Online on Korean servers.

Devin Connors:

T-Shirt Turtle:
I'm not really one for politics and stuff, but considering how bad the North Korean government is can't we or some other country go in and topple them? Or do we have to wait for North Korea to actually do something terrible like invade South Korea for real and slaughter hundreds of innocent people before we actually do something? I'm pretty sure there is a good explanation but I have yet to see it.

Attacking North Korea would set off a chain of events that could effectively lead to a World War III scenario. China and Japan would both get involved, which means Taiwan gets involved. And there's a chance that a conflict in that region would also pull in Russia and India. It would be a long-term clusterfuck of the highest order.

-Devin Connors

There are enough potential flashpoints with the BRICs nations at the moment and the economic and cold war with them is bad enough as it is even without someone poking North Korea with a stick, while they are harmless to everyone outside their own country its best to let them be.

Kuala BangoDango:

RossaLincoln:
... War with NK would be easy,...

That's what we thought the LAST time we went to war with NK and in case you aren't aware of the outcome we ALL lost that one.

Don't forget that war with North Korea * was * easy the last time we did it. That's how MacArthur was able to decide his war boner was approval enough to just romp all over the whole country, UN mandate be damned. What made the Korean war terrible is that China got involved and pushed UN (US) forces back to the border between the two Koreas. My point, perhaps mangled by my tendency to overtalk, is that it wouldn't just be war with North Korea.

So basically the FBI is trying to shoehorn NK into all this by pulling new evidence out of its arse. Sounds like Iraq's WMD story all over again.

Sleekit:

as for the rest of the report i find this odd as the most recent reports i have seen suggested "an inside job"...although i suppose there no real reason both could not be true...although that would seem to suggest "sleeper agents" inside sony which seems a bit far fetched....and overly convenient...

worth noting that the "most recent report" you talk about was a security company finding a disgruntled employee complaining about working at sony on online forums that hackers visit sometimes. NOTHING more. i dont consider this proof of an inside job.

Fulbert:
So basically the FBI is trying to shoehorn NK into all this by pulling new evidence out of its arse. Sounds like Iraq's WMD story all over again.

what new evidence? FBI has stated from the get go that they will NOT release the evidence public for obviuos reasons.

Toadfish1:

direkiller:

Toadfish1:
]So why don't China just send men in to kill the Kim family and install their own, saner puppet?

The UN for one.
Even if they somehow get tied up
Japan, ROC, and US will not sit idly by.
Chinas best hand right now is to maintain the status quo and reap all the cheep coal they can get from the DPAC.

1. The fuck does China care about what the UN thinks? THE human rights atrocities they've got, and you think China cares what the UN says? And why would the US or Japan care if China killed Kim Jong Un? Both hate the Kim family specifically and like China. China is the one with a good reason to utterly despise Japan, not the other way around.

because it would be a good reason to push for re-unification, is enough for the ROC.
Japan gets assurances that no one will shoot at them(also very buddy buddy with the ROC).
And the US is non too shy about helping the ROC and Japan in any way shape or form, even if its just an embargo.

As for the UN
just look what the world did to collectively cripple the Russian economy, why would china be different in this case?

BaronIveagh:
An IP address is not proof. By law. For a reason.

It's called spoofing.

To be blunt, any moron can pretend to have a North Korean IP. I used to do South Korea all the time to bypass region specific IP filters to play Ragnarok Online on Korean servers.

Clealy, because they are not idiots, any spoof that presented itself would have been part of the sloppiness. Why would you assume this kernal of knowledge you present is unknown to the FBI? The RO thing is common knowledge. They had been keeping mum specifically to make certain of their findings. Ergo, it is likely that they found the endpoint, not a proxy.

Toadfish1:
So why don't China just send men in to kill the Kim family and install their own, saner puppet?

Because, and as many people don't actually understand, Kim Jong Un is a figure head, not a guiding force. The actual leaders of North Korea are the Generals that control the military. That's why Un started up to much crap back when he first took "control" back when his father died, because he needed to display to the "Warlords" that he could do the job. To create any real change in NK would require the dismantling of their military and at that point its not very covert.

direkiller:

Toadfish1:

direkiller:

The UN for one.
Even if they somehow get tied up
Japan, ROC, and US will not sit idly by.
Chinas best hand right now is to maintain the status quo and reap all the cheep coal they can get from the DPAC.

1. The fuck does China care about what the UN thinks? THE human rights atrocities they've got, and you think China cares what the UN says? And why would the US or Japan care if China killed Kim Jong Un? Both hate the Kim family specifically and like China. China is the one with a good reason to utterly despise Japan, not the other way around.

because it would be a good reason to push for re-unification, is enough for the ROC.
Japan gets assurances that no one will shoot at them(also very buddy buddy with the ROC).
And the US is non too shy about helping the ROC and Japan in any way shape or form, even if its just an embargo.

As for the UN
just look what the world did to collectively cripple the Russian economy, why would china be different in this case?

I don't know about Europe, but isn't the US' economy much much more reliant on China than it is on Russia? If China goes down then there's a good chance the US economy would follow.

Zetatrain:

I don't know about Europe, but isn't the US' economy much much more reliant on China than it is on Russia? If China goes down then there's a good chance the US economy would follow.

Not sure if reliant is the word. Businesses outsourcing, for instance, is cutting corners and skirting practices for easy money, generally a dirty tactic. A failure in China would force businesses to operate closer to the actual principals and practices of economics. That is, they would have to pay into the local economy to get their returns. This means less profit, but it was artificially inflated in the first place.

Fulbert:
So basically the FBI is trying to shoehorn NK into all this by pulling new evidence out of its arse. Sounds like Iraq's WMD story all over again.

Eh, my thoughts exactly. I still remember the speech Colin Powell gave in the UN, basically lying to the whole world. He also had a "smoking gun". So pardon me if I take anything that American intelligence says with a grain of salt.

P.S: That Kim Jong-Un Hollywood photo is hilarious by the way. Can I have that in higher resolution. :)

Zetatrain:

direkiller:

Toadfish1:
1. The fuck does China care about what the UN thinks? THE human rights atrocities they've got, and you think China cares what the UN says? And why would the US or Japan care if China killed Kim Jong Un? Both hate the Kim family specifically and like China. China is the one with a good reason to utterly despise Japan, not the other way around.

because it would be a good reason to push for re-unification, is enough for the ROC.
Japan gets assurances that no one will shoot at them(also very buddy buddy with the ROC).
And the US is non too shy about helping the ROC and Japan in any way shape or form, even if its just an embargo.

As for the UN
just look what the world did to collectively cripple the Russian economy, why would china be different in this case?

I don't know about Europe, but isn't the US' economy much much more reliant on China than it is on Russia? If China goes down then there's a good chance the US economy would follow.

US is not as tied as you would think, It would be a recession for sure, but Pakastan, India, Vietnam,& Taiwan are more then happy to take over the consumer products manufacturing.

Still it's enough of an Economic M.A.D situation that Kim will stay right where he is.

Why the US isn't invading North Korea?

Remember what happened last time the US fought a war in a country with that much forest? I think the US does.

I think it will be a long time before we see the americans fight a ground war in a wooded country again.

Not quite too sure on what they're trying to achieve; FBI asks the NSA to help confirm the information despite the fact the FBI and the NSA were working together on the Prism program.

liar liar pants on fire.....There's not much that could be said about them.

Or maybe the NSA is recieving a copy of data packets sent to North Korea?

FalloutJack:

BaronIveagh:
An IP address is not proof. By law. For a reason.

It's called spoofing.

To be blunt, any moron can pretend to have a North Korean IP. I used to do South Korea all the time to bypass region specific IP filters to play Ragnarok Online on Korean servers.

Clealy, because they are not idiots, any spoof that presented itself would have been part of the sloppiness. Why would you assume this kernal of knowledge you present is unknown to the FBI? The RO thing is common knowledge. They had been keeping mum specifically to make certain of their findings. Ergo, it is likely that they found the endpoint, not a proxy.

I don't think that's how it works at all. The clever part about spoofing and all the other tricks those kinds of hackers use is that if they work successfully you don't just fail to follow them to their source, you fail to discover them at all. If the "endpoint" seems to be in North Korea then it could be because that's where it originated, or it could just be because you're not able to follow the trail any further, point being you can never be totally sure.

Which is why, as Baronlveagh said, you can't use that sort of thing as a legal proof. No-one is claiming the FBI are idiots [1].

[1] Actually I am, but more for their totally unrelated experiments in giving everyone and everything LSD.

Lunncal:
Zoop

Can we get an expert opinion on this? I am fairly-savvy, but I am not 100% sure on this. Pretty sure the FBI still nailed it, but nothing's wrong with seeking more information from a reliable source.

Laggyteabag:
That and you cannot really justify any form of armed retaliation against a country that has done nothing to your country in recent years other than hack a movie company and throw around some evidently empty threats.

There's a lot more to it than that. It's North Korea acting like they're allowed to police people who live outside of their country. Today it's telling movie companies which movies they can and can't put in theaters, tomorrow it'll be telling you which clothes you're allowed to buy and wear. It doesn't matter how minor of an infraction they committed this time, it's the fact that if we just sit idly by, they're going to do more and more to see what else we'll let them get away with before we actually start doing anything. By showing them that we aren't going to fuck around right off the bat, it sends them a very clear message that they need to keep their nose out of our business or we WILL do something about them.

WhiteTigerShiro:

Laggyteabag:
That and you cannot really justify any form of armed retaliation against a country that has done nothing to your country in recent years other than hack a movie company and throw around some evidently empty threats.

There's a lot more to it than that. It's North Korea acting like they're allowed to police people who live outside of their country. Today it's telling movie companies which movies they can and can't put in theaters, tomorrow it'll be telling you which clothes you're allowed to buy and wear. It doesn't matter how minor of an infraction they committed this time, it's the fact that if we just sit idly by, they're going to do more and more to see what else we'll let them get away with before we actually start doing anything. By showing them that we aren't going to fuck around right off the bat, it sends them a very clear message that they need to keep their nose out of our business or we WILL do something about them.

And that, my friends, is how Fallout became a reality!

Lighthearted snark aside, you're both creating a slippery slope fallacy and ignoring how such an action would look to the international community - particularly China. Going to war with a relatively powerless nation and raining hell down upon them for something as minor and with as flimsy evidence as this would force China to react with arms and wouldn't be supported well by our EU allies, setting off a chain of events that would pretty much fuck the world - the US included. The NK has to cross a line that not even China could justify or defend such as a direct attack on foreign soil, especially if that soil isn't SK or Japan (China doesn't like Japan). Otherwise, we go to war with China and other countries (Russia included if it's still intact), we'd have WW3, and if things ever hit nuclear then.... well, you already know the answer.

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