The Slatest

U.S. Officials Say North Korean Government a Key Player in Sony Hack

The entrance of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif.

Photo by -/AFP/Getty Images

The utterly crippling hack of Sony Pictures was, almost from the beginning, thought to be the work of North Korea. The way the attack was carried out had a number of striking similarities to another cyberattack thought to be engineered by the North Koreans against South Korea last year. On the surface, North Korea also appeared to have a motive: They were pretty angry about, of all things, Sony Pictures’ upcoming—and now canceled—release of the Kim Jong-un–mocking movie The Interview.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reports, U.S. officials have collected enough evidence to finger the North Korean government as a key player in the cyberattack:

American intelligence officials have concluded that the North Korean government was “centrally involved” in the recent attacks on Sony Pictures’s computers … Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was still debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism campaign …

While intelligence officials have concluded that the cyberattack on Sony was both state sponsored and far more destructive than any seen before on American soil, there are still differences of opinion over whether North Korea was aided by Sony insiders with an intimate knowledge of the company’s computer systems …

It is not clear how the United States came to its determination that the North Korean regime played a central role in the Sony attacks. … Much of North Korea’s hacking is done from China. And while the attack on Sony used some commonly available cybertools, one intelligence official said, “This was of a sophistication that a year ago we would have said was beyond the North’s capabilities.”