It is the film which we won’t see in cinemas yet it has gained worldwide recognition. Could Sony’s decision to withdraw “The Interview”, after threats from hackers prove to be the most successful cyber attack by North Korea to date?
The movie tells the story of a fictional CIA plot to assassinate Kim Jong-Un. The hackers who call themselves ‘Guardians of Peace’ had earlier released sensitive information stored on Sony computers.
Pyongyang is considered by many as the sponsor of the attack which threatened the safety of cinema audiences. The US says it is a serious national security matter but refused to point the finger at a suspect.
“I am not prepared to ascribe any accountability for this specific action or to describe the sophisticated actor who might have initiated it,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
The hack started on November 24 when a message appeared across Sony Pictures computers threatening to release data unless an unnamed ‘request be met’.
The North Korean regime denies being behind the attack, but called it a “legitimate act”. US government sources say investigators have determined it was “state sponsored”.
For years North Korea has been pouring resources into a sophisticated cyber-warfare cell called Bureau 121. It is run by the military’s spy agency and staffed by some of the most talented computer experts in the country, many students at the military computer school.
Jang Se-yul who deserted to South Korea six years ago was one of those students. He claims there are 1800 hackers working undercover in countries across the world.
“In North Korea it’s called the Secret War. They can secretly knock an enemy down. They can kill somebody without letting anyone know who did it.
‘His company operates as a normal business abroad. He works like a normal businessman. That’s why what he does is so scary,” he said.
The aim is to attack the infrastructures of countries Pyongyang deems to be its enemies. In March 2013 South Korea blamed the North for crippling cyber-attacks that froze the computer systems of its banks and television stations for days.