Sony Pictures hack – US exacerbates sanctions on North Korea

Pierluigi Paganini January 04, 2015

The Obama administration exacerbates economic sanctions against 10 senior North Korean officials and three entities of the country.

The aftermath of the dramatic attack on Sony Pictures continues to be felt, the cyber attack against a company operating on US soil is considered by the Government of Washington a dangerous precedent.

Who is behind the attack? A gang of cyber criminals of a group of state-sponsored hackers working for the North Korea? We just know the name of the group, the GoP hacking crew and we have a clear of evidence of the weapon used to compromise the Sony Pictures network, a dangerous wiper malware that was examined by numerous security firms. The fact that the malware is written in Korean and that Sony Pictures has financed the film The Interview that mocks the North Korean leader, did not provide objective evidence for an attribution of the attack.

Anyway, it seems the US Government has no doubts, the attack was coordinated by the North Korea and for this reason the White House hit the country with tightened sanctions.

US Government blames North Korea

According to the White House the sanctions will be applied to three entities and ten individuals considered by the US intelligence as “agencies or officials of the North Korean government.”

The entities are:

  • Reconnaissance General Bureau – The North Korea’s primary intelligence organization.
  • Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation KOMID – The primary arms dealer and main exporter of military equipment and conventional weapons.
  • Korea Tangun Trading Corporation responsible for the procurement of technologies to support the National defense research.

These sanctions established by an executive order concern the North Korean Reconnaissance General Bureau, and officials in Iran, Russia and China. But security experts consider the act just a demonstrative position because the US authorities have always expressed their diffidence against the above entities.

“We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a U.S. company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression,” added Earnest.” said the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

However, the US Government gives a deeper meaning to the sanctions that consider the “first aspect of our response“.

Interesting the position of President Obama in a letter to Congress:

“The order is not targeted at the people of North Korea, but rather is aimed at the government of North Korea and its activities that threaten the United States and others,”

Many experts speculated that the recent Internet outage suffered by the North Korea was a revenge of the US cyber units in response to the attack on Sony Pictures, but the US refused the accusation.

“Even as the FBI continues its investigation into the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, these steps underscore that we will employ a broad set of tools to defend U.S. businesses and citizens.” states the Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew.

The US Government feels the need to assert its supremacy with a formal act expressing its dissent on what it considers an act of war.

“And administration officials insisted again that the Sony attack “clearly crossed a threshold,” in the words of one senior official, from “website defacement and digital graffiti” to an attack on computer infrastructure.” reports the New York Times.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –   Sony Pictures, North Korea)

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