back to article Just WHY is the FBI so sure North Korea hacked Sony? NSA: *BLUSH*

For those still wondering why US President Barack Obama and the FBI have so confidently blamed North Korea for the Sony Pictures hack, it's apparently because the NSA compromised the secretive country's computer network years before – giving American intelligence a front-row seat for subsequent shenanigans. The New York Times …

  1. streaky Silver badge

    Evidence?

    The argument is the NSA in NK's gear. Well no kidding that's what they're supposed to do. Then <conjecture> therefore it must therefore be NK. The article actually contradicts itself:

    The N.S.A.’s success in getting into North Korea’s systems in recent years should have allowed the agency to see

    Yeah, no shit, one would think that, wouldn't one?

    Don't get me wrong I can't imagine how or why it could have been anybody but North Korea but I've still not seen any evidence it actually was.

    1. Mark 65

      Re: Evidence?

      Given the NSA got into NK kit using zero day exploits are they that convinced that no other machines in the entire country could not have likewise been hacked by any other person on the planet ever? If they're not sure then what's to say those machines that data came from for the emails and attacks weren't being used as proxies?

    2. BillG
      Facepalm

      Re: Evidence?

      why is the US intel community disclosing source and methods just to bolster the credibility of its explanation for the Sony hack?

      Because it's to Sony's benefit.

      It's better for Sony stockholders if they believe Sony was up against a powerful state-sponsored attack from an evil nation, rather than admit Sony's security was the equivalent of a screen door for a submarine hatch and (this part is true) only one technical person at Sony was tasked with internet security while multiple security analysts told Sony their security system should be nicknamed The Titanic.

    3. Pronounce

      Re: Evidence?

      And what kind of secret spy agency do you have when they give away the secrets? Isn't Snowden a criminal for sharing the same thing?

      It's like when Kim Kardashian cried, "boo hoo someone shared my secrets bits on the net", but now that she gets to make the call it's all-good.

      If nothing else this stuff can be used as a script for a modern day Greek comedy.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    I think it's safe to assume...

    ...that whatever the NSA says is the opposite of the truth.

    1. Annihilator

      Re: I think it's safe to assume...

      And probably the Nork government too, so kinda hard to call it on balance.. I use the word "government" loosely too.

    2. Oninoshiko
      Big Brother

      Re: whatever the NSA says is the opposite of the truth.

      You can't depend on that, if you do they'll start telling the truth, because you'll think it's a lie.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: I think it's safe to assume...

      Sigh. When will they start teaching critical thinking (and Bayesian reasoning) to these kids?

  3. RachelG

    We know they lie

    We're just finally at the point in the "cry wolf" story when the villagers don't believe it when there might actually be a wolf.

    I don't suppose they'll get the aesop though.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: We know they lie

      They understand the principle just fine. They also understand that it has little actual force in the real world. History and psychological experimentation provide ample evidence that audiences are not, in general, strongly conditioned by a history of falsehoods; that the "Big Lie" and other non-logical rhetorical techniques are far more successful at persuading people, in general, than logic and reason; and that a strategic mix of silence, deception, and limited truth (carefully couched) has been very successful in achieving their aims1 and shows no signs of weakening.

      For all the ink and breath spent on the subject, I see no signs that the Snowden revelations, for example, have done any significant damage to government intelligence agencies or broadly speaking to the parasitic private industry they contract out to. That doesn't mean those revelations were not useful, but their utility does not appear to include any dismantling or even reduction of the surveillance / police state.

      (And the same is true of other, longer-standing efforts in this area, such as Cryptome. John Young may be a class-A curmudgeon,2 but he's been publishing stuff since long before Wikileaks was a gleam in an attention-seeker's eye. Yet still we have steady encroachment on civil liberties and other abuses of power. Ditto Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, etc.)

      1First of which is the continued existence and burgeoning budget and power of the intelligence industry, of course.

      2And visitor to these hallowed pages under a pseudonym? Perhaps.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Curious timing

    As always, politicians in general and the US of A in particular, start out with a lie, and if it doesn't convince Joe Public, they come up with another lie. And then months later, if the doubters are still numerous and loud, come up with that damning piece of "evidence" to silence them all... (of course, that's another lie).

    If what they say was credible, surely they'd have mentioned it much earlier (especially since they claim to have been in NK's networks since 2010). The timing just stinks.

    And the pattern repeats: WMD, Snowden, Torture (or, sorry, Enhanced Interrogation Techniques)...

    Lie after lie after lie... because the first lie just wasn't convincing enough, the second didn't quite do the trick either... and on and on it goes...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lie after lie after lie...

      Let's not call them lies, that sounds far too negative. How about "An Orchestrated Litany of Fearmongering" instead?

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Lie after lie after lie...

        Let's not call them lies, that sounds far too negative. How about "An Orchestrated Litany of Fearmongering" instead?

        Hmmm...'OLOF'. That works.

      2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Lie after lie after lie...

        How about "An Orchestrated Litany of Fearmongering" instead?

        Not bad, but it could use a little something. Perhaps "legitimately inelegant explanations" instead? Oh, wait...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As always with the NSA its...

          Hastily Organised Response of Spurious Evidence Suggesting Hostile Intelligence Taskforce

    2. I Am Spartacus
      Holmes

      Re: Curious timing

      Lets not restrict this to the USA.

      I seem to recollect one A. Blair and the 45 minute Dodge Dossier.

      Politicians Lie - no shit sherlock

      1. Gannon (J.) Dick
        IT Angle

        Re: Curious timing

        IN-ADDR.ARPA kcolrehs tihs on

    3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Curious timing

      I don't think this about convincing Joe Public; I think it's more about convincing corporate that to open the kimono and let Uncle Sam in and that "sharing" information is the safest route.

    4. thomas k.
      Alien

      Re: Lie after lie ...

      So, UFOs *are* real, one did crash at Roswell in '47 where we recovered alien bodies and captured a live one? Woot!

      (Sorry, been trapped in the strange neighborhood at youtube for a few days.)

    5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Curious timing

      politicians in general and the US of A in particular

      While it's true that (nominal) representative democracies require more rhetorical maneuvering than political systems which unabashedly secure power for specific individuals, I don't think the USA holds any special status in this regard. On what grounds do you believe the Commonwealth countries, for example, feature less falsehood among the political class?

      In fact, at the Federal level, the separate election of the legislature and executive (as opposed to conjoining them in a parliamentary system), and the de facto two-party arrangement, might conceivably reduce the need for falsehood a bit.

  5. pinkmouse

    Come on chaps, think like a spook. You have an actor who you can't crack. What do you do? You persuade them that their current system is broken so they will change it.

    The organized chaos of a changeover would be the ideal time to compromise a system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Come on chaps, think like a spook. You have an actor who you can't crack. What do you do? You persuade them that their current system is broken so they will change it.

      Not at all far-fetched. One result of the Snowden revelations is that the terrorists, who already suspected, switched to home-grown crypto. As a result, the USIC (new acronym!) have reaped a windfall of intelligence due to flaws in the new crypto software. Forcing North Korea to switch to some new, potentially flawed, methods (not just software) would be a nice thing to do.

  6. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Would have been more impressive (and believable)

    if they had stopped the hack.

    1. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Up

      @Jimmy: Re: Would have been more impressive (and believable)

      Jimmy,

      quite, if I held a US passport and/or Sony stock I would be more than a tad miffed about the whole sequence of events, i.e. WHAT ARE WE PAYING THE NSA TO DO??

      Or I am being unfair?

      Cheers,

      J

      1. Dan Paul

        Re: @Jimmy: Would have been more impressive (and believable) @fruitoftheloon

        You didn't see the "Imitation Game" movie then did you? Where they made a decision not to provide actionable intelligence for a US food/material ship convoy being targeted by German submarines as that would tip the Germans off that the Enigma code had been broken? Or where it might by comparison be silly to say anything about the NSA having compromised the DPRK's network?

        1. NumptyScrub

          Re: @Jimmy: Would have been more impressive (and believable) @fruitoftheloon

          You didn't see the "Imitation Game" movie then did you? Where they made a decision not to provide actionable intelligence for a US food/material ship convoy being targeted by German submarines as that would tip the Germans off that the Enigma code had been broken? Or where it might by comparison be silly to say anything about the NSA having compromised the DPRK's network?

          So they let Sony get hacked, only to tell us anyway a little while later. Yet we have not been told of whatever major Nork hack they did manage to thwart that has tipped the DPRK off that their systems are compromised.

          If it was far more important than a tiny global megacorp like Sony, I'd have thought they might have been crowing about it. As is, all I see is some additional "evidence" presented to make a previous statement sound more convincing, and nothing regarding why they chose to sabotage their (apparently successful and long running) intrusion at this time by doing so.

          It is a mystery ^^;

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Jimmy: Would have been more impressive (and believable) @fruitoftheloon

            Did anyone actually tip them (DPRK) off? Maybe yes, maybe no, we'll never know for sure.

            They'd be stupid if they did not think we were nosing around their network any way. DPRK are cetainly nosing about our networks and others. We are not responsible for Sony's network security and do a piss poor job of keeping our own "secure".

            Evidence planting is the stock and trade of the "spooks". The US bankrupted the USSR by letting bits of info leak about Star Wars, and I see no reason why we would not continue the methodology with DPRK. They just have less to lose.

            The Obama administration would glady "crow" about any success they could, even if that puts people in harms way. So it appears that there are no successful attempts on their networks that he is aware of (or we would have already heard about it).

        2. JimmyPage Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: @Dan Paul

          Yes I have seen the Imitation Game. It's a film isn't it. A work of entertainment ?

          It's a well known paradox of cryptography that in order to maintain your advantage in the long run, you may have to make short term sacrifices. Sounds easy on paper, until you realise the sacrifices have families.

          However, in *this* case, it's hard to see what the long term advantage being protected by leaking a story about how you had the capability to do what everyone thought you had the capability to do anyway is.

          Although many people did make a sacrifice, and go and see "The Interview". I guess that's the price of [cyber]war.

          1. Ken 16 Silver badge

            Re: @Dan Paul

            Coventry

          2. Mark Dempster

            Re: @Dan Paul

            >Yes I have seen the Imitation Game. It's a film isn't it. A work of entertainment ?<

            Yes, it was. And rather a good one as it happens, but that's not relevant here. What IS relevant is that the decision to allow many attacks to take place anyway DID happen; probably the worst example being the firebombing of Coventry,

            Not that it means that that's what happened in the Sony case, but you can't just dismiss the other guy's poinit because he mentioned the film rather than the wartime government policy

        3. fruitoftheloon
          Thumb Down

          @Dan: Re: @Jimmy: Would have been more impressive (and believable) @fruitoftheloon

          Dan,

          no I didn't, but I do know my history from WW2 about convoys and the blitz.

          Regardless of that, I think my original point is still valid, I would have thought it not beyond the realms of possibility for someone in the US State Department to have a word with a Sony board member about something they may like to pay attention to...

          Or perhaps they did but were politely rebuffed along the lines of "We meet all relevant standards and have leading edge technologies, blah... blah... blah'

          J

          1. Dan Paul

            Re: @Dan: @Jimmy: Would have been more impressive (and believable) @fruitoftheloon

            J,

            Why would anyone even have that conversation with Sony? I wouldn't. Even someone from the State Department wouldn't get any respect from those arrogant bastards at Sony.

            1. fruitoftheloon
              Thumb Up

              @DanRe: @Dan: @Jimmy: Would have been more impressive (and believable) @fruitoftheloon

              Dan,

              You are probably right.

              Cheers,

              J

        4. streaky Silver badge

          Re: @Jimmy: Would have been more impressive (and believable) @fruitoftheloon

          Or where it might by comparison be silly to say anything about the NSA having compromised the DPRK's network?

          I'm positive that North Korea are aware that security services from various countries are in their systems and that passing on relevant information would have made zero difference to the NSA's capabilities.

    2. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      More impressive still

      if they ran the whole Sony hack from the North Korean servers

    3. skeptical i
      Devil

      Re: Would have been more impressive (and believable)

      What? And stop the distract-a-thon that a shedload of badmouthing emails will provide? If people are getting wrapped up in the internecine warfare that is Hollywood celebrity culture, they won't be asking questions, will they.

  7. moiety

    So no new evidence then. The 'key evidence' that I've seen is a list of proxy IP addresses; all of which were published. So it could have been absolutely anyone. They might claim that using a particular bunch of IP addresses as a suite would 'fingerprint' the aggressors; but it reality it could still have been anyone...the suite of IP addresses being used by random chance or someone looking to frame the norks is at least as likely.

    So this latest 'evidence' is a hearsay claim that the NSA had pwned the norks years earlier. On the face of it, this is reasonable, as eavesdropping on nuke-armed nutters is more or less what the NSA is for. Given a network as small as the norks I would suppose that they might well be able to point out the building the signals emanated from. But that's supposition and -given the evidence and effectiveness displayed- there is no reason to believe that the NSA could find the norks on a map, with 3 tries and a geographer standing by.

    So with all the grillion$ of dollars to throw at things; laws bent; and lots of staff the NSA can only be wise in hindsight? Well shit, as a commentard I can be wise in hindsight for free, and nobody has to get their liberties fucked over in the process.

    If they were monitoring, they failed. If they weren't monitoring they failed. Nobody believes a syllable they say anyway...for such a high-falutin' think tank; they don't seem to realise just how much of a hit their credibility has taken. Saying "it's OK, the NSA had it under control, but it's all operational so we can't tell you about it" just ain't good enough.

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Trust?

    "All this is mostly based on anonymous briefings by shadowy intelligence types."

    and we should believe that because...?

    If you REALLY want to know what the NSA is up to then as a shadowy intelligence type (honest!) I'll happily give you an anonymous briefing - for the usual brown envelope full of swiss francs left in a hollow oak tree in Hyde Park.

  9. kbb
    Joke

    Creating Precedent

    Isn't it obvious? It's all a front by the RIAA/MPAA. If they can convince everyone that a list of IP addresses equates to the identificaiton of the guilty party then all those pesky "an IP address doesn't identify an individual" arguments get thrown away in court.

    1. elDog

      Re: Creating Precedent

      So sue them! The norks and the nsa, altho I'd be interested in knowing in which court of law it would be tried.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Creating Precedent

      Reality? That may be no joke. Lord knows, looking at the Sony memoranda vis-a-vis Google.... The universe is often a strange and perverse place.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Constructions such as this.

    Should have some foundation, structure and supporting evidence to hold up.

    Otherwise they are just Building 7's

  11. PNGuinn
    Big Brother

    Smokez and Mirrorz

    So it wox the NSA wot didit. Stands to reazon gov.

    THEY WANTZ SONYZ WORLD LEADING ROOTZ KITZ TECKERNOOLGIEZ.

    Seriously, this whole thing is getting so unbelievable even the above is becoming remotely believable.

  12. moiety

    Conspiracy theory

    ...for that matter, how do we know it wasn't the NSA themselves? Encryption makes their jobs harder (my heart fucking bleeds). So how better to address that than a high-profile hack (giving an excuse to crack down on the technically literate) followed by an inexpensive atrocity (to get the public in an accepting mood to have their civil liberties dry-arse-fucked yet again)?

    Blaming the norks is perfect because they can be guaranteed to spout enough mixed threats and denials to keep it all in the papers for weeks. And when that all starts to fade a bit, cue the atrocity...

    EDIT: Ha! PNGuinn, you beat me to it.

  13. SolidSquid

    Look, look, here's an example of how the NSA is fighting the bad guys! Everyone knows North Korea are the bad guys, right? That makes us the good guys!

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      @SolidSquid

      Makes me think of a famous French standup comedian:

      My enemy is stupid ! He thinks I am the enemy when in fact it is obvious that he is it. (slightly hard to translate)

  14. Christoph Silver badge

    "our shared goal is to prevent bad actors from exploiting, disrupting or damaging U.S. commercial networks and cyber infrastructure. When it becomes clear that cyber criminals have the ability and intent to do damage, we work cooperatively to defend networks."

    When we hacked into their networks, we found that these terrible criminals were hacking into our networks!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Francis Vaughan

    Four possibilities

    There are four possibilities here. The cross product of:

    NSA has broken/not broken the NK's net.

    The NKs hacked/didn't hack Sony.

    The North Koreans know if they hacked Sony or not. If they did, and the NSA have let it be known that they watched them, there is no real news.

    The only really interesting possibility is that the North Koreans didn't hack Sony, and the NSA are saying that they have cracked the North Korean's network, and saw them do it. Clearly the North Koreans should conclude that the NSA are lying, and the NSA has not cracked their network. Or maybe they are bluffing...

    Maybe the NSA has cracked the network, and knows the North Koreans didn't hack Sony... Maybe the North Koreans did hack Sony but the NSA are lying about knowing....

    Sending mutually contradictory information to the enemy intelligence agencies is just what traditional intelligence work is about. Keeping their heads in a spin, and obfuscating any real intel that they have with noise is exactly what it is about.

  16. Kane Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    "...is a load of dingo's kidneys..."

    That's fetid dingo's kidneys, I think you'll find.

    "Quite why the Feds are going to such lengths to convince the doubting infosec community, drawing attention to a program to wiretap a hostile country's internet infrastructure, is a puzzle. Perhaps the program had been uncovered. If not, why is the US intel community disclosing source and methods just to bolster the credibility of its explanation for the Sony hack?"

    <cough>False Flag</cough>

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why the US intel community would disclose source and methods just to bolster credibility.

    >" If not, why is the US intel community disclosing source and methods just to bolster the credibility of its explanation for the Sony hack?"

    Well, Bruce Schneier has a plausible theory that would explain that: from https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2015/01/attack_attribut.html -

    What this all means is that it's in the US's best interest to claim omniscient powers of attribution. More than anything else, those in charge want to signal to other countries that they cannot get away with attacking the US: If they try something, we will know. And we will retaliate, swiftly and effectively. This is also why the US has been cagey about whether it caused North Korea's Internet outage in late December.

    1. Myopic Aardvark

      Re: Why the US intel community would disclose source and methods just to bolster credibility.

      Still going to be quite funny when some script kiddie in Sweden or Argentina says "Yeah, it was me. I did it."

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here is a clue...

    ...for the naïve. ALL major countries spy on other countries continuously in an act of self-preservation. What you see on the tele is not how the real world actually operates contrary to the naïve public's perspective.

    1. Dan Paul

      Re: Here is a clue...

      Completely agreed, but do they ALL tell of their own exploits? In my suspicious mind, the best way to "out" the exploits WITHOUT reprisal is for them to show up in a film or novel. Then you could have complete deniability while still "jabbing" the enemy to egg him on. What I DO SEE on TV is only what they want us to see.

  19. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Interesting theories and pronouncements

    I'm still leaning towards an inside job on Sony. I'm not quite buying that the NSA did what they say they did and have access to the Norks network and with their help. I'm not quite buying that they saw this unfold and did nada. Either they saw it and ignored it, or they didn't see it. This whole campaign coming out of Fort Meade just seems a bit fishy. I know that agencies play power games, etc....

    Something just doesn't feel right about the explanations.... plausible but giving away the farm about how they "own" the Norks just doesn't feel real. If it is, then the Norks are probably in a mad dash to reconfigure their network security. If It isn't real, then the Norks are still in a mad dash to shore up their security and that just made the NSA's job harder. The other dead fish smell is that the Norks get their access via China.. there's no direct access. Red herrings abound.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Interesting theories and pronouncements

      Add that the NSA is looking for a budget increase of at least another billion dollars to crack encryption on the regular nets in response to Apple, Google, &c. Got the Congress they need to get it too.

  20. Rocksalt
    Holmes

    The Real position

    So, NSA cracks the NORK network some time back and lay passively watching( listening) to the glorious leader swearing whilst playing warcraft.. and getting his Gnome stomped on by a Taruen Warrior.

    For the sake of argument, lets just assume its true and the NORKS actually did traverse the world internet routes to poke at Sony.. and they NSA didn't mention anything otherwise it would tip the NORKS that they had been compromised... ok so this is one of those collateral damage type of ploys that are played out across the spooky world intelligence theatre's world wide and will continue for eons to come...

    It's circles within circles, plans within plans, bluff within bluff....

    What you all don't realise is its all a grand stage, played by all the nations... the NORKS have been set-up to be the bad guys, the US the good guys.. to distracts us from the real threat invading our fair world... behind the headlines, we are secretly being invaded and the world governments are waging war together as a united front .. against... the might of the brain sucking leeches from the planet ZERG

    The glorious leader is but playing his small and humble part of being a despotic foaming at the mouth type of tyrant to lull the leeches into a false sense of security.. they can't invade NORK as they have nothing of value there, hence, global operations against this threat are based there... pretty smart eh? who would ever think of looking in the one place the world and his dog thinks are run by democratic hating nuclear toting human rights violating maniacs.. not i.. and certainly not the leeches who are probably phasic in nature just like in the Voyager episode where the crew are experimented on by phasic beings.... make much more sense than to expect a normal and humane society not to deny its citizens the right to fully express themselves when they want to and how they want to.

    Pretty simple to a simple mind.. a quote from a solider fighting in Israel in the war they had in the 70's .. when asked why he thought the arabs hated the jews so much... the soldier said, it's not them personally, its the heat in their heads... they wrap the towel around their heads and sort of fry their brains, sends them a bit mad.....

    To this day, i believe it's the Leeches

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: The Real position

      "...and getting his Gnome stomped on by a Tauren Warrior..."

      HA! Unlikely, he probably rolled a goblin.

  21. Peter Simpson 1
    Happy

    NSA chief met the chief of the Nork's hacking squad?

    As a gesture of our deep respect for your Dear Leader, please accept this gold plated USB key, containing some of our best porn.

    :-)

    And the rest, as they say, is history.

  22. Frank N. Stein

    "it is our shared goal is to prevent bad actors from exploiting, disrupting or damaging U.S. commercial networks and cyber infrastructure." Which "bad actors" are we referring to here?

  23. depicus

    So NK syphoned off TERABYTES of data and nobody at the NSA spotted it or bothered to inform Sony. Like most here I call Billy B******t

  24. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    End of Term Report .... Fail, and Falling Catastrophically Behind Novel Leading .Alt Net Betas

    It is not just NSA spooks spinning dodgy collapsing yarns to try and create an alternate virtual reality to the truth ...... which always is outed in the end to destroy all those and that which is built upon its cracked foundation .........

    amanfromMars ….. having a say on http://sluggerotoole.com/2015/01/16/reason-254-why-local-politicians-need-atlantic-philanthropies-money-initiatives-like-politicsplus/#comment-1799479828

    Regarding the failures of FCUKGBNI Security and Secret Intelligence Services [take a bow and the plaudits, Palace Barracks], here be evidence for the prosecution in the case of their not having got their APT ACTs in furtherance of micro/macromanaging dull animal perception fully together ........ http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/18/continuity-ira-suspects-mi5-cira-maghaberry-northern-ireland-prisoners

    APT ACT ..... Advanced Persistent Threat Advanced Cyber Threat

    Palace Barracks [Holywood, Ireland] = MI5 HQ

  25. Curtis

    I suspect that Sony hadn't paid their protection monies to someone...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    North Korea steps right into the foreign aggressor the US Gov needed

    Anyone else think that it might just be an opportunistic time for the US Govt to prey on the paranoia and fear?

    Here's how it may play out:

    1. Sony gets hacked, by someone, really doesn't matter who

    2. US government steps in, declares "the answer is North Korea wot hacked Sony ZOMG ZOMG", and they go piece together enough data to support that claim. (e.g. Afghanistan, Iran) Outright fabrication of a story based on zero actual data is not out of the question. After all, it is hard to fight a war on cyberterror unless you can find (or invent) a malicious foreign aggressor.

    3. Stir the public into a frenzy that the "commies are coming over our TV cables", and that "WE MUST ACT NOW"

    4. With full backing of the populace, hack into North Korea

    5. Profit! This actually will come to the vendors that race into Wash DC offering to help spend some of the government money. Not to actually track down the North Korean hackers, but to play along with the system, and keep loads of security consultants employed.

  27. Spud
    Joke

    Ladbrokes

    Ladbrokes gave me 100/1 odds that Lizard Squad did it.

    Game on !!!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cyber attacks are an act of war

    At least according to Obama back in 2011.

    So I guess the US has been starting unprovoked wars with everybody.

  29. Gannon (J.) Dick

    So ...

    The NSA has determined that the folks at SONY were punked recently by certifying that the Norks were assholes years ago ?

    The cuckold is always the last to know, it seems.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it's all a ploy

    to provoke the Norks into starting a war so good old Uncle Sam can bring some "democratic" regime change to the region.

  31. FormerKowloonTonger
    IT Angle

    Parallel Privacy Invasion, or Not.

    Meanwhile, on the other side of our World, I ran across this from the excellent website, PJMedia, an article by one David Steinberg dated 19Jan2015:

    "Facebook Terror: Now-Arrested Jihadi Taught U.S. Jihadi How to Attack American Schools

    An Indian newspaper publishes the transcripts, a lesson in online jihad outreach."

    "An Indian newspaper publishes the transcripts, a lesson in online jihad outreach.

    January 19, 2015 - 10:19 am

    Just posted at MEMRI (subscription required, shared with permission): late last year, an Indian jihadist was arrested for his involvement in planning an attack on schoolchildren attending the American School in Mumbai.

    The jihadist’s Facebook page was being monitored, and he was caught recruiting a willing U.S.- based jihadist to undertake a similar attack here." end paste.

    The dialog is in a rather stilted English translation, but the meaning is quite clear.

    Go ahead, read it. Maybe they're only "moderates", eh?

  32. Christian Berger Silver badge

    If they saw that attacks were coming...

    ... couldn't they have just told Sony to prevent the whole mess from happening? Shouldn't the FBI be punished for not helping them when they could? I mean a simple warning like "this is a set of IP-adresses we expect attacks to come from" would have been enough, they wouldn't have had to give up any of their operational procedures or capabilities.

    This whole thing doesn't quite add up if you assume the FBI is one of the good guys here. One plausible story might be that the FBI computers found out about it, but it was just somewhere in their database, or they did actually know about it, but let it happen in order to foster support for new surveillance laws. Keep in mind large organisations act like living beings. They might act in self defence.

  33. Pronounce

    Skeptical Culbable

    The report says that they were in NK's network for 4 years and didn't let Sony know that NK was hacking them. Because there is no way a hacker can download 100 TB of data without showing traffic flow. The NSA didn't feel the need to stop it? I guess they like free movies as much as the like Zero-Day exploits. (That they are telling us they don't stockpile.)

    Shady all around. I can't believe anything the NSA, FBI, CIA say. Nothing at all.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't make sense....

    If the NSA had broken into the NORK n/w why publicise it over a shit hack of the Sony n/w? Only if the NORKs had discovered said hack, perhaps, or the hack doesn't exist and you throw doubt in NORK n/w minds. Nothing to see here......

  35. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    How to Look like a world-class cyber-spy agency

    1. Wait for an attack

    2. Match list of proxies used in the attack to list of "enemy" nations, declare the attacker was "sloppy" in using their own addresses

    3. Declare you already compromised enemy's systems years ago

    3. Laugh evilly as enemy mounts extensive investigation for non-existent breach, and eventually executes their top cyber-security team for treason or incompetence.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I reckon it's PSYOPS

    Unproven or not, the result of this "revelation" is the North Korea is presently scrambling to get everything screened which puts them offline for a while.

    This makes me wonder what they are trying to draw the attention away from with this revelation because it is rather clumsily done. They should have leaked that through a journalist for more credibility:

    In short: I don't buy it.

  37. John Deeb

    Bigger Brother keeping an eye on Big Brother

    The puzzling thing for me about Clapper's bragging is that one can hardly justify any moral or legal objection against this Sony hack when you just admit you've broken into and basically control someone else's digital properties (spanning a whole state) all for your own benefit. Then lets call the Sony hack a "vile" act from the NK state hacking department. But violation remains violation. What is the difference between a burglar hiding forever in your closet or take some stuff, run off and show the world? The basic crime is really the same and all potential intelligence "benefits" seem like more of the same to me too, that is: relative.

    It's weird though this picture of NK controlling their state with a system of control and NSA controlling that system again in the digital realm.

    Bigger Brother keeping an ever watchful eye on Big Brother?

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Bigger Brother keeping an eye on Big Brother

      Historically there's a clear divide between spying ("everybody does it") and sabotage.

      Spying involves only small and very careful changes to a target system to compromise its security while leaving its primary function unaffected. Thereafter, access is read-only. Anything that causes the target's primary function to be damaged draws attention to the spying, thereby defeating its purpose, as well as crossing the line into sabotage.

      Sabotage uses compromised security to damage or destroy a compromised system's primary function. It's as much a hostile act as using explosive devices on another state's territory. Unlike spying, it is not tacitly accepted as something that everybody does, other than during a war.

      On this basis, what the USA (claims it) did to NK's systems is normal peacetime behaviour for a nation state. What NK (allegedly) did to Sony is not.

      [edit] Although it occurs to me that the USA and NK are not actually at peace ... the Korean war ended in a truce but no peace treaty has ever been signed.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    McAfee says it's not so

    Just read on another forum (geekweek.pl) that John McAfee proclaims he knows who the hackers were, but because he shares their ideals of fighting the big biz, he would not reveal exactly who they are. Of course, the hackers have nothing in common with the NSA. As far as the american government credibility goes today, I myself feel like a big sucker because way back I earnestly believed in the WMD existence in Iraq. No more of that sh..t

  39. cyberjack

    welcome to the spy game

    I gather there is some confusion over what actually happened, who knew what and when.

    Well let's, see... North Korea is a nuclear enabled rogue state that makes threats to destroy the US.

    It's the NSA's, CIA's etc job to detect threats from nuclear enabled rogue states by spying on them to protect national security.

    Sony Pictures makes films and stuff, which makes some famous folks richer and more famous.

    Does the NSA, CIA etc care a hoot about Sony's profits and actor's reputations? No.

    Does the NSA, CIA etc want to confuse the enemy and disrupt their nefarious operations by any means possible, including misinformation, propaganda and psychological warfare?

    Hell yeah!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019