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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Did North Korea do it?

The New York Times says yes, North Korea did launch the hack attack against Sony...
American officials have concluded that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers, even as the studio canceled the release of a far-fetched comedy about the assassination of the North’s leader that is believed to have led to the cyberattack.
Here's my problem: Remember when John Kerry assured us that there was no doubt that Bashar Assad launched those chemical weapons attacks in Damascus? And then those damnable doubts crept in...
While intelligence officials have concluded that the cyberattack was both state-sponsored and far more destructive than any seen before on American soil, there are still differences of opinion over whether North Korea was aided by Sony insiders with knowledge of the company’s computer systems, senior administration officials said.

“This is of a different nature than past attacks,” one official said.
Why would Sony insiders help Kim Jong-un's hired guns? That's suspicious. (If true.)

By contrast, Wired says that the evidence against North Korea is weak.
It’s easy for attackers to plant false flags that point to North Korea or another nation as the culprit. And even when an attack appears to be nation-state, it can be difficult to know if the hackers are mercenaries acting alone or with state sponsorship—some hackers work freelance and get paid by a state only when they get access to an important system or useful intelligence; others work directly for a state or military. Then there are hacktivists, who can be confused with state actors because their geopolitical interests and motives jibe with a state’s interests.
Nation-state attacks aren’t generally as noisy, or announce themselves with an image of a blazing skeleton posted to infected computers, as occurred in the Sony hack. Nor do they use a catchy nom-de-hack like Guardians of Peace to identify themselves. Nation-state attackers also generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security, as purported members of GOP have done in media interviews. Nor do such attacks involve posts of stolen data to Pastebin—the unofficial cloud repository of hackers—where sensitive company files belonging to Sony have been leaked. These are all hallmarks of hacktivists—groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, who thrive on targeting large corporations for ideological reasons or just the lulz, or by hackers sympathetic to a political cause.
There's an argument against this: Kim Jon-Un is really just a potato-shaped spoiled kid, as are many hackers. Maybe he told his hackers to behave like the ones he has read about.

Wired goes on to posit that the threat against "places" showing The Interview could be a red herring, designed to make the Norks into the fall guys. The real perpetrators could be someone pissed off at Sony for other reasons.

Or maybe there is another political agenda at work here. Guardians Of Peace? One can derive a very amusing set of initials from that name.

Let's ignore, for the moment, those threats against The Interview, which may or may not have been mere window dressing. The evidence against North Korea comes to this:

1. Language.
Four files that researchers have examined, which appear to be connected to the hack, seem to have been compiled on a machine that was using the Korean language.
But a computer can, of course, be set to any language. By this standard, one might launch a "North Korean" attack from Columbus, Ohio.

2. Wiping software. The hackers used an app called RawDisk to wipe away data on Sony's computers. The same app was used in previous attacks against Saudi Arabia and South Korea. But were state actors involved in those attacks...?
The 2012 attack in Saudi Arabia, dubbed Shamoon, wiped data from about 30,000 computers belonging to Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil conglomerate. Although U.S. officials blamed Iran for it, researchers found that malware used in the attack contained sloppy code riddled with errors and attributed it to hacktivists with political motives rather than a nation-state.
And really, that's it. That's the evidence.

At least, that's the evidence available to the public right now (according to Wired). Maybe the government insiders who spoke to the NYT have some actual proof. I certainly hope so.

I don't want to be one of those screwballs who screech "False flag! False flag!" every time something unpleasant happens. And yet...just because North Korea is one majorly screwed-up country doesn't mean that they are the perps in this case. Both good people and bad people can be framed, although it's a lot easier to frame bad people.

Here's another obvious point: Making The Interview unavailable for release tells every would-be cyber terrorist (maybe a state actor, maybe a snotty kid in his uncle's basement) that powerful people will do whatever they are told to do. We have just witnessed the biggest buckle since the heyday of pilgrim headgear.
This is so odd. And if one were to speculate a false flag, then cui bono? Sony Pictures is a subsidiary of a Japanese corporation. It may be American, based out of Culvert City, but the word "Sony" won't stir indignant feelings of American patriotism in anyone. So what good as a false flag to direct anger towards N Korea? Even if it pissed off the Japanese, they aren't leaning towards N.K.. So what's the point? The USA wants to prevent economic integration between Japan and China, not with N.K..
When I see "American officials" in any news article as a source, I immediately assume that some sort of propaganda is forthcoming. The term is basically meaningless, and a way for the media to let you know they will be towing the government line in the rest of the article.

I think the "buckle", as you refer to it, is pretty suspicious. I thought we didn't negotiate with terrorists? Of course, it was Sony that buckled, not the US government, but still. I find it fairly bizarre that they would just give in like that. I'm less surprised that the theater companies would, as they could probably assume that ticket sales would plummet because of the threats, whether they were real or not.

Of course, if North Korea didn't do it, what was the motive? Personally, I think some basement dwelling, pimple adorned hackers are having a good laugh about all this right now.
Obviously if this is a setup and North Korea is not responsible, then the culprit would more likely be someone wanting to frame North Korea? And who might that be? Remember how Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney and PNAC need reasons to go to war before 2000? And how Rumsfeld's old Swiss company was involved with selling nuke components to North Korea? Which was then later used as a reason to go to war against NK. How Saddam was framed for shit he never did In order to get the USA in a war? Which bad actors were behind misleading everyone on those events?

Who benefits from having both a Hollywood liberal movie studio and North Korea both getting their asses royally kicked? Who benefits from revealing that U.S. intel is working with Sony execs to make anti-commie movies? Who benefits from leaking all of this personal info about Sony employees and execs? Who benefits from blackmailing a U.S./Japanese movie studio and by extension the American public? Who benefits by threatening terror attacks on the USA if they see the movie?

Which parties have done this type of thing in the past? And what is this similar to? North Korea may or may not be involved.. I suspect the ongoing "Wreck America" project is not really the work of one group or country anyways, but the work of many. Just like 9/11 was not the work of one country.
As an expression of our cultural Imperial hubris, what could be a better treat for the holiday season than a romping-good stoner comedy, revolving around the assassination of a foreign leader? It's assumed that we all hate Kim Jong Whatisname (although I personally don't give a shit) so where is the harm? Ho Ho Ho, maybe next Christmas season will bring a comic film about the snuffing of Putin, Julian Assange or Evo Morales. To those who think it's in bad taste: "Why do you hate American comedy, comrade?"

Finally, as to who done it, no one has mentioned the possibility that Sony may have fallen behind on it's payments to the Yakuza, and this is the result, nicely framed as a hack from North Korea, for discretion's sake.
I can't believe I got all the way to the end of that post without finding a single sentence that attempted to blame Israel. You're slipping, Joseph.
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