The FBI Says That North Korea Was Behind the Sony Hack

A Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy has now officially sparked an international incident.

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Dec 19 2014, 6:03pm

Photo via Flickr user DoD News Features

Since November 24, a group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace has been embarrassing Sony. These hackers started off by flashing a cheesy/ominous skull on all employees' computer screens, then they released some of Sony's films online, then came the leaks of salaries and private messages.

Airing an email in which a Hollywood exec calls Angelina Jolie a "minimally talented spoiled brat" might have hurt one person's feelings, but it's not exactly terrorism. Still, that didn't stop people from—insanely—comparing it to 9/11. By the time the Guardians of Peace made their first actual IRL threat, people completely lost their shit. Sony acquiesced to the hackers' demands and decided to eat what amounts to a $75 million investment—though some of the promotional cash will presumably be recouped with online sales. (The hackers were pretty pleased with this.)

On Friday, the FBI released a statement about its investigation into the attacks and confirmed a persistent rumor that North Korea is behind them, rather than some anti-capitalist pranksters or an 11-year-old named Dade " Zero Cool" Murphy. (Analysts came to this conclusion because the malware used in the Sony Hacks is similar to ones North Korea has used in the past.)

"We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there," the FBI statement reads. "Further, North Korea's attack on SPE reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States. Though the FBI has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyber intrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart. North Korea's actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a US business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves."

The White House said it was planning a "proportional response," but didn't specify what that meant—like, does the US go after the North Korean film industry now? No idea.*

*Update: President Obama was asked about the situation at his end-of-the-year press conference early Friday afternoon. He vowed to respond to North Korea's hack and chided Sony for backing down.

"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States," Obama told reporters at the White House. "Because if somebody is able to intimdate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what will happen if these start seeing a documentary they don't like or news reports they dont like."

The president said Sony "made a mistake" in canceling the theatrical release of The Interview, and that he wished they had spoken to him before making the move.

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