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Attacks/Breaches

1/7/2015
04:25 PM
Sara Peters
Sara Peters
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FBI Director Says 'Sloppy' North Korean Hackers Gave Themselves Away

Bureau chief says hackers occasionally forgot to use proxy servers, while the Director of National Intelligence says North Koreans have no sense of humor.

FBI Director James Comey, today, said that the hackers who compromised Sony Pictures Entertainment usually used proxy servers to obfuscate their identity, but "several times they got sloppy."

Speaking today at an event at Fordham University in New York, Comey said, "Several times, either because they forgot or because of a technical problem, they connected directly and we could see that the IPs they were using ... were exclusively used by the North Koreans.

"They shut it off very quickly once they saw the mistake, but not before we saw where it was coming from."

It is perhaps possible that the servers in North Korea were not the original source, but were themselves proxy servers. The FBI has other reasons to attribute the attack to North Korea, Comey said -- including psychological profiles the Bureau's behavioral analysis unit developed about the attackers and the results of red team simulations.

“There is not much in this life that I have high confidence about,” said Comey. “I have very high confidence in this attribution, as does the entire intelligence community.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also spoke, quite bluntly relating tales of a tense dinner meeting he had in North Korea in November with "General Kim," a North Korean government official he believes was central to the Sony attack. Presumably he was referring to General Kim Yong-Chol, director of Unit 586, which includes Unit 121 -- the country's center of cyber-attack operations, recently estimated to be 6,000-troop strong.

Clapper said that Kim kept "pointing his finger at my chest and saying the US and South Korean exercise was a provocation to war and of course not being a diplomat, my reaction was to lean back across the table and point my finger at his chest."

"They really do believe they are under siege from all directions," said Clapper, "and painting us as an enemy that is about to invade their country every day is one of the chief propaganda elements that's held North Korea together."

"They are deadly, deadly serious," he said, "about affronts to the supreme leader, whom they consider to be a deity."

As for The Interview, the new Sony comedy about assassinating Kim Jong-Un, Clapper said he watched it over the weekend "and it's obvious to me that North Koreans don't have a sense of humor."

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

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Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 7:24:13 PM
Sony , B-Movies and $ 2 bins

"...The Interview, the new Sony comedy about assassinating Kim Jong-Un, Clapper said he watched it over the weekend "and it's obvious to me that North Koreans don't have a sense of humor."

 

I am not sure how to take this statement.   Is this tongue and cheek ?  Flippant ?   Or just bad form ?    Either way  the comment does nothing to address the real issues here.   Whether you agree with Kim or not - that is not the point.   The movie was unnecessary and bad form - which is what Sony apparently does best.   You mean to tell me Sony executives could not find a better way to spend 50 M  ?   Who am I kidding ?   Of course not, they are Sony execs after all. 

 

That ridiculous given aside, I really don't think we should be wasting anymore taxpayer dollars on worrying about the N.Koreans in terms of Sony.   If they(Sony) want to produce completely disrespectful product ( in the name of freedom of Speech ) which is no better than a B-Movie comedy destine for the $2 bin.  

Don't expect tax dollars to clean up the mess  they make.   

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 7:35:56 PM
So Now What ?

Ok now that we have confirmed it was N. Korea - Now what ?   I have heard sanctions ...etc.   What real  difference is that going to make ?   Were we not doing business with them already ?  

 

I am hearing everything but what Sony is doing to clean house.   Oh I guess it is kind of hard to update the public while email is still down.

SgS125
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SgS125,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2015 | 9:17:26 AM
Even the benefit of doubt
Sure why not just throw out that the uber hackers were careless.

Or that sony was careless.

Just don't talk about REGIN anymore and they will be happy
Wolf6305
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Wolf6305,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/8/2015 | 9:17:46 AM
Re: Sony , B-Movies and $ 2 bins
I don't think any national government would be happy with a production about murdering their current sitting leader.  It is not funny.  Not a good joke at all.  It would not be surprising if the agrieved country would take the production to be aggressive propaganda. 
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
1/8/2015 | 9:43:02 AM
Re: Sony , B-Movies and $ 2 bins
"Aggressive propaganda" is an interesting way to describe how North Korea might perceive the movie. Though I wouldn't credit Seth Rogan & company with a political agenda.. just making a silly movie that apparently did pretty well in the (home) box office, in spite of the threats. That's the thing about free speech. You don't have to like what someone says. But they do have the right to say it...
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2015 | 9:54:51 AM
Re: Sony , B-Movies and $ 2 bins
"..That's the thing about free speech. You don't have to like what someone says. But they do have the right to say it..."

 

@Marilyn Cohodas     Yes this is true.   But is there such a thing as responsible free speech ?   I think so, and I would expect leaders of industry to consider and practice this as well.  
macker490
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macker490,
User Rank: Ninja
1/8/2015 | 10:15:19 AM
maybe. maybe not:
A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of the truth. --Albert Einstein
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Black Belt
1/8/2015 | 10:26:55 AM
Re: Sony , B-Movies and $ 2 bins
I don't think any national government would be happy with a production about murdering their current sitting leader.  It is not funny.  Not a good joke at all.  It would not be surprising if the agrieved country would take the production to be aggressive propaganda. 


@wolf6305- I don't know. America seems to make at least one movie and sometimes several per year where we kill (or threaten to kill) our own President. Hollywood is a mashup of people form all over the world so some of those are actually made by and in other countries and released here. 

If an artist in North Korea specifically made a movie depicting out President being killed, I personally would not feel threatened, If the North Korean government made one, that would be an insult. 

I think the real issue is that media is so tightly controlled there that they don't want to believe (though they are capable of it) the difference between art and propoganda. 

I mean, really, if they wanted to understand, they'd have gone after Franco and Rogen, not Sony.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Black Belt
1/8/2015 | 10:29:27 AM
Re: So Now What ?
Ok now that we have confirmed it was N. Korea - Now what ?   I have heard sanctions ...etc.   What real  difference is that going to make ?   Were we not doing business with them already ?  


@technocrati- I think the answer is nothing. I think the real goal here is to just say, "we know you did it. We know how. And we're better at this than you so back off."

Despite all the posturing, North Korea has continued to make small gestures of reopening diplomatic relations with South Korea. There's no reason to let this get in the way of that. 
RalphDaly28
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RalphDaly28,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/8/2015 | 1:45:20 PM
Re: Sony , B-Movies and $ 2 bins
Interesting discussion. SPOILER ALERT: While there is merit to claim that the movie might be in bad taste, the movie does not depict the assassination of Kim. The duo of nimwits travel to Korea with that intention to assasinate but they don't even come close. Kim dies in a helicopter vs. tank battle with Kim in the helicopter and the nimwit duo in the tank with someone from the North Korean information ministry. I found the movie to be better than I would have anticipated and much less objectionable given that I expected the assassination of Kim to be depicted which does not happen, although his demise is depicted quite graphically.

I think having taxpayer money being spent to protect or avenge Sony's business decision is not something I like to see. I also don't see much alternative. If we expect freedom of speech to be protected, we have to protect it even if it is commercial and idiotic. Just because they use cyber as a weapon should not make them immune when attacking US citizens or companies. Granted Sony is a Japanese corporation but Sony Pictures is operated primarily in the US. If North Korea destroyed a Sony studio with a bomb we would expect the government to do something about that even if no one is killed.
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