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NSA Hack of N. Korea Convinced Obama NK Was Behind Sony Hack 181

Mike Lape links to a NYTimes piece which says "The evidence gathered by the 'early warning radar' of software painstakingly hidden to monitor North Korea's activities proved critical in persuading President Obama to accuse the government of Kim Jong-un of ordering the Sony attack, according to the officials and experts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the classified N.S.A. operation." From the linked article: For about a decade, the United States has implanted “beacons,” which can map a computer network, along with surveillance software and occasionally even destructive malware in the computer systems of foreign adversaries. The government spends billions of dollars on the technology, which was crucial to the American and Israeli attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, and documents previously disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, the former security agency contractor, demonstrated how widely they have been deployed against China. ... The extensive American penetration of the North Korean system also raises questions about why the United States was not able to alert Sony as the attacks took shape last fall, even though the North had warned, as early as June, that the release of the movie “The Interview,” a crude comedy about a C.I.A. plot to assassinate the North’s leader, would be “an act of war.”
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NSA Hack of N. Korea Convinced Obama NK Was Behind Sony Hack

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  • Stands to reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oheso ( 898435 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @06:24AM (#48848739)
    So, the US says North Korea attacked Sony. And the US knows this because it attacked North Korea years ago ...
    • Re:Stands to reason (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @06:30AM (#48848751)
      According to John McAfee, N. Korea had nothing to do with the Sony hack.

      Anti-virus pioneer John McAfee claims to have been in contact with the group of hackers behind the devastating cyber-attack against Sony Pictures and guarantees they are not from North Korea.

      Speaking to IBTimes UK about his current roster of security startups under his Future Tense brand - including secure messaging app Chadder - McAfee spoke about working with the FBI previously but said that, in this case, the agency was "wrong".

      "I can guarantee they are wrong. It has to do with a group of hackers - I will not name them - who are civil libertarians and who hate the confinement the restrictions the music industry and the movie industry has placed on art and so they are behind it."

      http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/john-... [ibtimes.co.uk]

      • McAfee says North Korea didn't do it? That's all the proof I need that they did!
      • by DrXym ( 126579 )

        "I can guarantee they are wrong. It has to do with a group of hackers - I will not name them - who are civil libertarians and who hate the confinement the restrictions the music industry and the movie industry has placed on art and so they are behind it."

        Oh so it was a noble cause all along. Pull the other one.

      • Anti-virus pioneer John McAfee...guarantees they are not from North Korea.

        I take it he's posted a surety bond to back up his guarantee...

      • According to John McAfee, N. Korea had nothing to do with the Sony hack.

        John McAfee says a lot of things and does a lot of things that seem pretty 'remarkable'. Either he is having one hell of a interesting life, or he is a pathological liar. It seems pretty convenient that he cannot even give this mystery group a name.

        North Korea has a well established history of aggressive, belligerent behavior, and this sort of thing sounds right up their alley. John is going have to cough up a lot more evidence than his good word that an agency with thousands of people and billions of d

      • I'm sorry, but are we treating John McAfee is a credible source for anything these days?

        As far as I can tell he's a somewhat crazy fugitive drug user with some paranoid sounding theories.

        I rank him about as credible as Charlie Sheen on a meth fueled rant.

        He's a bit unhinged and likes to tell stories, but I'm not sure that means any of it is real.

        • I think he's less motivated to lie, however. Things McAfee says may be wrong, but things the FBI says (particularly with regards to the activities of foreign enemies) are likely to be deliberately wrong.

          I'm not saying he's right, but...and this is going to sound bizarre to say...John McAfee is more credible than the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Yes but we are the good guys remember, so it okay. Also remember we are supposed to judge people by their actions, not their nationality or ethnicity unless they are Americans than obviously they are good.

    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @10:34AM (#48849459)

      Question: Where did the hack came from?
      Answer: North Korea
      Q: How do you know?
      A: Uh, uhm, ah, we saw it pass our routers that were in North Korea.

      Could have easily been the NSA themselves. The only thing we do not know for sure is at what moment they started lying about what they know. So it could be 100% true or 100% false.

      As such it is useless information.

    • Spying on another country does not constitute an attack; bringing down its systems would be an attack. Like bringing down a company's computer systems would be an attack. (Spying on US companies by network infiltration has been going on for decades, including defense contractors; to my knowledge, while that spying was frowned on, it hasn't been labeled an attack.)

      It's also the case that North Korea is technically still at war with South Korea, which is an ally of ours. And it has attacked boats in intern

    • Correct. The US hacked a hostile nation's government, one we're technically at war with, that has repeatedly declared it will attack the US and has fired weapons at our allies, and that kidnaps our allies' citizens.

      North Korea hacked a private corporation's network to disclose random people's private information and to engage in artistic censorship.

      Totally equivalent, yup.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2015 @06:32AM (#48848753)

    Thank god people know now that the threat is North Korea hacking a movie company. This way, they can be freedom fighters just by watching a mildly funny movie with Mr. Rogen and Mr. Franco, which is both fun and easy.
    Otherwise, they would have to assume that the threat to their freedom is more like a court approving a single warrant on the telecomm data of more than a million people. Or the CIA spying on the institution that is supposed to supervise them. Fighting these would be much less fun and easy, maybe even dangerous.

    • That's Flacco not Franco... listen to the POTUS!
    • Social justice is easy as fuck now, too. Did you know clicking "Like" on a FaceBook post about hunger feeds 12 billion starving African children every day?

      Also, funding to #StopCancer can be massively increased with a retweet.

      And since it's all social, and you're sharing, everyone will know how much you #care, and you'll inspire them to care just as much as you do!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder what Powell thinks of the evidence?

  • Doesn't Matter (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There's nothing they could do or say that would convince the Slashdot crowd that it really was North Korea behind the attack. North Korea could reveal exactly how it did it and Slashdot would still tinfoil hat this into a conspiracy.

    Cue the "false flags" bullshit comments or talk about how one of the DPRK's 1024 IP addresses was hacked by someone else to use as an attack vector from the United States. This whole readership should really just cough up its computer networks card right about now ...
    • Re:Doesn't Matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2015 @06:44AM (#48848777)

      > There's nothing they could do or say that would convince the Slashdot crowd [...]

      Not talking for "the Slashdot crowd" (whatever that might be [1]), but look: the NSA isn't an impartial party here -- and they're whoring for sympathy at the moment. Given its track record, *I* prefer to not trust anything it says.

      --- ---
      [1] To me it looks like a big honkin' strawman, but hey.

    • nothing the us government could say.

      very true.

      that's what happens when everyone realises you are a compulsive liar.

      it's perhaps the key reason governments are being made obsolete. they just don't know the difference between the truth and lies.

    • Probably because it's completely ridiculous and massively unlikely that North Korea had anything to do with it? And that pretty much everything the FBI and NSA say are massive lies?

      You're right, we should absolutely believe the ridiculous and unlikely things compulsive liars tell us.

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2015 @06:33AM (#48848763)

    1. This is another "45 minute" claim of the sort that provided pretext for the Iraq war, isn't it? It might be true, or it might be misleading but have an element of truth, or it might be utter fiction. An intelligence agency is an agency of state security, and "state security" means working on behalf of state interests, and state interests tend not to coincide with the people's interests.

    2. It might then be in the interests of the state to let the attack happen, so it can be used as an excuse to further state interests.

    3. I don't know why people are getting their panties twisted about NK's typically sabre-rattling reaction, which we all know is 1 part "I'm a maniacal dictator" and 1 part "goad the Americans into reacting so we can use their reaction as internal propaganda proving them to be an on-going threat that necessitates our regime". How would the West feel about the release of a popular film in which the assassination of a living head of state is planned? How would your government behave toward you if YOU wrote a book / published a film / performed a play about this?

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      I thought the blurb was not exactly honest about the way the cyberattack on the iranian nuke program went down?

      sounds fishy - and this is what, the third explanation for how nsa/feds knew that north korea was behind it? one of the others was that "there was direct ip connection from north korea" or something like that..

      and I mean - if this explanation is actually correct then they knew BEFORE THE ATTACK but didn't do anything. and still haven't. yet the anon fucks on this article claim they could just shut

      • I can't remember the name but there was a film released a couple of years ago that was about the assassination of Bush.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @09:39AM (#48849205)

      How would the West feel about the release of a popular film in which the assassination of a living head of state is planned?

      You mean like if a villain plotted to kill the queen at a baseball game with hypnotised assassins with all kinds of hilarious pratfalls along the way?

      I suspect the reason it doesn't happen more often is due to legal issues, audience reception (and therefore box office) and the fear of repercussions of pissing off the people whose good graces they want to be in. It doesn't stop one book, movie and TV show after another putting fictional heads of state in perilous situations and occasionally bumping them off.

      And if North Korea did some movie about whacking Obama, it's likely it might generate some media noise but I doubt it would do much else.

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        Try something else - how about a film which glorified the 9/11 attacks, and painted the victims as justified targets? One can't simply compare the topics without also comparing the importance and reverence people/governments place on the subject matter.

        I'm not saying I agree with NK's alleged actions, but your comparison is not particularly accurate...

    • sounds like a great idea.

      someone should wrote a book where all the g 20 leaders get assassinated and how much better the world is afterwards.

      just make sure the puppet masters are in the room with them.

    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kiwikwi ( 2734467 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @11:55AM (#48849921)

      How would the West feel about the release of a popular film in which the assassination of a living head of state is planned? How would your government behave toward you if YOU wrote a book / published a film / performed a play about this?

      In 2006, Death of a President [imdb.com] portrayed the assasination of George W. Bush. I don't remember hearing about it at the time, and even searching the website of Fox News doesn't turn up much controversy.

      In 2008, AFR [imdb.com] came out, in which Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the then-Prime Minister of Denmark (and later Secretary-General of NATO) was murdered (and also, incidentally, portrayed as a closeted homosexual, in line with long-standing rumours). It genereted minor controversy, was well-received by critics, and a failure at the box office. I found it forgettable (I literally don't remember any of it).

      Of course, both films were small, independent films, and both can legitimately claim to use the controversial plot for a higher purpose. The Interview... not so much.

    • How would the West feel about the release of a popular film in which the assassination of a living head of state is planned?

      I know it isn't quite the same, but it seemed like there was a run for a while where at least once a year there was a movie about the president of the United States getting trapped in a bunker.

    • How would the West feel about the release . . .

      Well, the US didn't hack England when a subsidiary of a quasi-UK government entity released this film less than a decade ago: Death of a President [wikipedia.org] (about the fictional assassination of George W. Bush).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ask yourself first whether it has ANY importance whatsoever whether it was or was not NK which hacked Sony site, when your own government, together with the help of your "don't be evil" company, watches every move of yours and every site you wish to see, and feeds you with lies and propaganda via the 6 media megacorporations which own 90% of US media, and hacks and spies ALL its satellite states in Europe (I live in one of these states).

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @07:00AM (#48848803)
    So they have a secret capability to spy on North Korea, and they tell us because Sony got hacked? So now North Korea knows about it and probably will do something about it? That sounds an incredibly stupid action to me.

    In WWII, when the Brits cracked German encryption, the went to incredible lengths to create believable stories how they found secret German operations that they discovered through decrypted Enigma messages.
    • by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @07:38AM (#48848861)
      I didn't RTFA, but it would be funny (or smart) if it was all BS and the US didn't have this capability. How many man hours will be wasted trying to find and fix it on North Korea's part. They may even execute some of their top people for not finding a non-existent security hole. Not that I personally find that a good thing, but I'm sure the NSA would.
      • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @08:39AM (#48848991)

        However, this wouldn't fool the NK government, if they're not actually responsible for the hack, because they're totalitarian enough to KNOW they weren't responsible. In which case, who is this 'leak' intended to fool? Rhetorical question, it's the American public.

        Alternate option: NK was responsible but the confidential sources are proud enough of their jobs to want to toot the NSA's horn, and don't think NK can actually do anything to stop the hacking, even if they broadly know how they were hacked. Evidence of the Sony hack was found in a counter-hacking performed after the Sony hack, probably using already-existing implants, or was only examined after the Sony hack. The unusual degree of interest that Obama had in the Sony hack suggests that the NSA might've been given an unusual degree of interest in the matter as well, so it's plausible they would've found something beyond what the legal authorities would've.

        • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @09:21AM (#48849139) Homepage
          Another alternate opinion, since we are at this. NK was responsible, the NSA actually as planted beacons and by spreading the information they expect the NK to take action to secure its systems and upgrade the old technology beacons doing so. Wiping the old OS and technology and replace it with newer systems and pieces of software already contaminated by the NSA. NSA is then forcing an upgrade to its own beacons.
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        It is all BS. Think for 15 seconds and its plain as day it has to be BS. If the NSA had a persistent backdoor into the DPRK's systems why would they admit it now? If I had access to my enemies networks, why in heavens name would I reveal that to them AFTER they demonstrated capability and willingness to conduct attacks of their own? Nope does not hold water now more than ever I would be concerned about protecting my secret access so I could be continue to monitor for future attacks, and have a path to s

      • from personal experiance(US Army), the US goverment's technical capabilities generally lag far behind their ability to bullshit, which of course is their greatest asset.

        The US Government most likely has third rate hackers, and it can catch in sting operations or pressure to work for it. Few if any of the real talent gives a damn, as many of them are in one of the social groups the government has more or less made enemies of state and society for the last 4 decades. The ones that aren't get caught up in the

        • by Maow ( 620678 )

          from personal experiance(US Army), the US goverment's technical capabilities generally lag far behind their ability to bullshit, which of course is their greatest asset.

          The US Government most likely has third rate hackers,

          Whats left are political lackies, the government can dress these people up as "the best experts in the world", and we'll all believe it, but their actual skills lack.

          If you believe that the US government, in the form of the NSA, is composed of 3rd-rate hackers, you haven't been paying attention at all to the Snowden revelations.

          • I have, and I think it proves my point. Snowden was obviously the smartest bulb in his shop by a long margin. Also, the only one with a damn concious. Correlation, hackers tend to be less sociopathic. I guess thats why we don't see the harm in security tools.

            If they did have any talent pre-snowden, I can guaruntee the pushback against hacker types in general would have either got them all fired, or drove them to quit. The government is a bunch of scared idiots who talk a better game than they have, and t

        • You're right. Six-figure incomes working for a super-secret government agency with its near-unlimited (and classified) budget, that employs more mathematicians than any other organization, with access to the most advanced and largest computing resources on the planet, with the authority and blessing to crack and exploit every system in the world would only appeal to third-rate hackers, and never to the high-functioning sociopaths who seem to make some of the best programmers.

          • There is this myth in America that you can solve any problem simply by throwing money at it, or that simply by paying someone mid-six figures you'll get the very best person on planet earth to do the job.

            If you were correct the US would have never lost viet-nam, ISIS would have never taken over eastern Iraq, and we never would have been hit on 9/11.

            The real thing that we can't comprehend is that "paying a bazillion dollars" doesn't automagically make things happen.

            high-functioning sociopaths who seem to make some of the best programmers.

            haw haw, pure slander. I think you mean

            • haw haw, pure slander. I think you mean best lawyers, politicians, media-corespondants

              And yet not programmers? I didn't say sociopaths are only best at being programmers. I agree with your list, but my mention of programmers was not meant to be an exhaustive list.

              I just don't see any justification for your assertion that NSA hackers are third-rate. On what planet? They have the best toys, they have high pay, and the thing crackers love to do best, break into shit they're not supposed to be in, they get hugs and kisses from the government for doing instead of being arrested. All you need is a

    • by DrXym ( 126579 )

      So they have a secret capability to spy on North Korea, and they tell us because Sony got hacked? So now North Korea knows about it and probably will do something about it? That sounds an incredibly stupid action to me.

      Or perhaps they got the info through other means but thought they'd troll North Korea - make them disrupt their own network looking for the compromise which wasn't there to begin with.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The same reason "collect it all" is now public, political leaders talk of tracking all communications and new encryption will have backdoors and trapdoors as offered or sold.
      Bureaucrats, technocrats, contractors and pundits understand that every aspect of the internet is trackable, all encryption use can be traced and decoded.
      Political leaders have often talked about material in public to sell a story. Quoting from decrypted embassy material over the decades to the the new policy statements about trackin
  • Red Herring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @07:12AM (#48848827)
    This isn't even about convincing the American public to support the NSA. It's about giving politicians talking points to justify the support they intend to continue to give.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Double Plus Good

  • We can't show you the evidence, 'cause we gots to keep it secret how we got it. Fuck off, you liars.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Surely the most obvious answer is that this is an NSA hack, and they threw the blame at North Korea, because a) Snowden leak yesterday reveals NSA does these false flag ops. b) NSA is defending its mass surveillance charges so it needs a scapegoat right now. c) Sony is a TV company and thus good for marketing to have them on your side.


    "... they routinely seek to cover their tracks or to lay fake ones instead. In technical terms, the ROC lay

  • This is stupid (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    even by American standards. Let N.K know that you're in their systems, just so you can convince us N.K were behind Sony attacks? Wow. Everyone understands N.K did NOT hack Sony, and in fact, the U.S is more likely to have done it themselves, just like they fuels conflict everywhere else they can. The U.S has become a divider, and the world needs to wake up, and stand up to them.

  • by abridgedslashdotuser ( 1932110 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @08:17AM (#48848917)

    I will never believe anything a US government ever says, because they showed in the past that they can not be trusted and that this does not change with whatever party is in charge right now. It is just lies that come out of every official PR persons mouth. Without hard facts to back it up everything they say must be considered not true.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2015 @09:21AM (#48849137)

      So all they have to do is say the opposite of what they want you to feel, and you'll go along with it?

      Do you understand why aggreeing to the above is just another way of saying "I believe whatever I want to believe, especially if it suits my taste"? Not exactly the objective outlook on existence you seem to want.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Demanding evidence instead of trusting blindly is the opposite of "I believe whatever I want to believe". You know the saying: "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, you can't get fooled again."

      • Why should i believe the opposite, if i say i don't believe them? Is there only 0 and 1 in your world/world view? This also makes the rest of your claim sound out off place because what you like to think i would do is not the case so your speculations that go further that point went to waste, sorry about that your tried so hard. When i say i do not believe the US-Government that means just that i don't trust them, it does not implicate anywhere that i would just believe the opposite i think you just project

  • This is terribly irresponsible regardless of the validity of it. South Korea has been attempting to reduce tensions in the area to return to negotiations with the North. This could be considered as evidence of hostilities by the South and increase tensions in the area. This would have a negative effect on the talks, increase the resolve in the North and add legitimacy to Japan's quest to reestablish a military. Destabilizing an entire region of the world and putting millions of lives at risk, reducing t
  • Sony: Help! We've been hacked!
    USG: Those DPRK rascals must be held responsible!
    Public: It could have been someone else....
    USG: No way! We saw their IPs sending e-mail to Sony!
    Public: But anyone could have relayed e-mail through an insecure server....
    Sony: Help, somebody........
    USG: No, definitely them! We've been hacking them for years! We know!
    Public: So why didn't you warn Sony before they were hacked?
    USG: .....

    The lesson here is that sometimes it's better to say nothing than to open the floodgates of pub

  • by anti-pop-frustration ( 814358 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @10:53AM (#48849569) Journal
    Snowden warns us that we're being spied on and that the grip the NSA has on the whole Internet goes far beyond what even the most paranoid had imagined and the US government answer is: espionage prosecution, international warrant etc.

    Compare with: Unnamed NSA official, no doubt with the blessing of his bosses, anonymously reveals the same kind of information about NSA spying - but this time because it is convenient for the administration and it fits into their political agenda, there won't be any legal consequences, prosecutions etc., absolutely nothing will happen, we all know it - and even worse - we all passively accept it.

    Laws are being selectively enforced by the government; there are no actually classified documents. There are "things the government wants you to know", those can be leaked and released on demand by "unnamed officials" - screw the legality of it - and there are "things the government doesn't want you to know", and anyone revealing those things will be spied on, harassed and prosecuted (James Risen? Laura Poitras?), it doesn’t matter that the people writing about those are journalists who have no duty of any kind towards the US government, they’re just doing their job.

    If the administration has proof of North Korean involvement, they can present it to try to convince the American public... but wait, no they can’t. They can't do that because the evidence they have comes from the NSA exploiting and hacking systems all over the internet. "Yes, your honor, I saw it all, it was the North Koreans who painted that graffiti. How do I know? I was there that night, burying a few bodies in the empty lot next door".

    The NSA giving actual proof of NK involvement is equivalent to them coming forward and admitting what they are: a threat far more dangerous for the security of the Internet than anything North Korea will ever be capable of.
    • Hey genius, it is illegal, not even merely illegal but against the founding principles of the United States, for the NSA to spy on American Citizens within the USA (or even outside of it but that is another discussion); however, it is NOT illegal or against the founding principles of America to spy on foreign countries.

      I am unsure how you even equate the two as evidence for enforcing laws sporadically. Whoever modded you to +4 either has an agenda or is a moron.

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Monday January 19, 2015 @11:47AM (#48849869) Homepage

    admits to hacking NK first which they say can be considered an act of war just to let the world know NK commited a possible act of war? WTF?

    • I'm pretty sure that the US does not consider "hacking" by itself an act of war. The response to allegations of North Korean responsibility by the US Government have been economic sanctions, not any sort of bombs being dropped. The US indicted a bunch of Chinese hackers that were accused of breaking in to stuff, presumably on behalf of the Chinese government or companies, but we haven't bombed China. No, I'm pretty sure the US considers hacking to just be a new method of doing the same stuff, or at least I
  • We need to limit our actions to those which:

      - increase security
      - improve communications and transparency
      - improve access

    Monitoring communications has to come after that --- the whole point to a society is to maintain and increase human dignity --- any action by a government which doesn't do this is an absolute travesty and should be prosecuted as a criminal act.

  • Because the NSA has always been open and honest with its paymasters, the American people, it is completely trustworthy in this as in all things.
  • Nothing the NYT links to says the NSA used the system to give early warning of Sony (or even after-the-fact analysis of Sony) - It simply says that the NSA had extensively penetrated NK in the late 2000's, and if that system were still in place, *could* have gained insight into the attack, either before it happened, or after the fact. However, given the FBI have raw access into the NSA's databases, its possible that this is why the FBI won't back up its claims with actual facts - it is relying on the data

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