Now this would make for a great movie (certainly better than “The Interview”). Here’s the plot. A reportedly awful movie is produced by Sony with little expected success. Then the company is hacked with threats not to release the movie. All fingers are pointed at North Korea, including statements from the White House and the FBI. There are widespread reports of the U.S. shutting down the North Korean Internet in retaliation. However, the real culprits are actually laid-off Sony staff. In the meantime, the suppressed movie racks in millions as viewers (including my kids last night) rush to see the forbidden movie. Now that’s a movie plot. It is not clear however if it should be fiction or non-fiction. Media is reporting that experts believe that North Korea was in fact innocent of the hacking and that the culprits were former employees of that other hermit kingdom, Sony.
Politico is reporting that a security firm has briefed the FBI on its belief that laid-off Sony staff hacked the system. The cyber intelligence company Norse have said their own investigation into the data on the Sony attack conflicts with a North Korean hack theory. While the FBI is standing by its conclusion that it was North Korea, other experts are not so sure.
Regardless of the ultimate conclusion, experts have questioned the quick conclusion of the FBI, which seemed eager to point to North Korea. The question is whether this conclusion was based on concrete evidence linking the regime or assumptions that are now being challenged. One expert is quoted as saying that, when the FBI announced its conclusions, it was far too early to make a firm decision. Others have said that the evidence suggests Russian rather than Korean hackers. The most common complaint among experts is that they are seeing the same base code evidence and that the evidence is “circumstantial at best.”
Nevertheless, the FBI cites undisclosed evidence and analysis for its conclusions:
“The FBI has concluded the Government of North Korea is responsible for the theft and destruction of data on the network of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Attribution to North Korea is based on intelligence from the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community, DHS, foreign partners and the private sector. There is no credible information to indicate that any other individual is responsible for this cyber incident.”
Of course, the best movie theory would be a conspiracy of Sony itself to pump up interest in a really bad film — using the Dear Leader as both the subject and the foil for driving people to see the movie. Any way this goes, it makes for one great whodunnit doesn’t it?