- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2014

The FBI said Friday that North Korea is responsible for the cyberattack on Sony Pictures that led the studio to cancel the release of a movie.

Confirming what government officials were saying privately for days, the FBI announced that is months-long investigation concluded that North Korea was behind the attack, based on technical similarities to previous attacks.

A statement from the FBI said investigators found “significant overlap in the infrastructure” used in the Sony hacking and in previous attacks. The agency said there were also similarities in technological tools used in this attack and an a cyberattack in March 2013 against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was blamed on North Korea.

The FBI said it will “identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests.” But the statement didn’t specify what actions might come next in this case.

North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves,” the agency said.

“Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.  The FBI takes seriously any attempt – whether through cyber-enabled means, threats of violence, or otherwise – to undermine the economic and social prosperity of our citizens.”

The hacking resulted in the theft of tens of millions of computer files, emails and personal data from Sony and its employees, by a shadowy group calling itself “Guardians of Peace.”

The group threatened 9/11-style violence against any movie theaters that would show the film “The Interview,” a Sony comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

Sony executives decided this week to cancel the film’s scheduled release on Christmas Day, drawing an outcry of protest from Hollywood celebrities and free-speech advocates.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the cyberattack was “an attack on our freedom of expression and way of life.” He urged business leaders to work with the government to protect their companies from such intrusions.”

This event underscores the importance of good cybersecurity practices to rapidly detect cyber intrusions and promote resilience throughout all of our networks,” Mr. Johnson. said. “Every CEO should take this opportunity to assess their company’s cybersecurity.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, California Republican, called on the new Congress next year to pass a North Korea sanctions bill that died in the Senate this year.

“It is time to stop being surprised by North Korea,” Mr. Royce said. “This is just the latest in its decades of hostility toward the U.S. and our allies. American lives could be lost as a consequence of cyberattacks against our critical infrastructure. Unfortunately the administration has been slow to respond.”

Mr. Royce said the U.S. should “quickly respond comprehensively” to the attack.

North Korea is attacking our infrastructure,” he said. “It is also attacking our values.”

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