State Sponsored Hacking – More Than an Issue for Sony

We live in a brave new world where the spies of yesteryear, like James Bond and Jason Bourne, are truly falling away into the realm of fantasy.

These smooth operators have been replaced by the slightly awkward, pasty-faced, computer hacker, who can gather more data or do more damage with a keyboard than a field agent could ever hope to accomplish with a gun and some daring.

Traditionally speaking, hackers were primarily criminals looking to make a buck or cause some havoc.

More recently, many nations utilize them as a military tactical unit meant to wage war on the electronic battlefield. Much like a bombing run would damage targets in the physical sense, hackers use technology to disrupt the digital front.

This latest attack, which was aimed at Sony, is a prime example of how a nation can bring this new weapon into play. According to claims by an FBI press release on 12/19/2014 and statements made by FBI Director James Comey on 1/7/2015, Sony was the victim of state-sponsored hacking.

Evidence cited indicates that North Korea targeted the media company when it planned to release a movie in which a couple of bumbling TV personalities are hired by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un.

Before the hacking incident, this movie was destined to be released; watched by a few die-hard Seth Rogan and James Franco fans; and immediately go into the annals of movie obscurity.

That, of course, was not the case once Sony garnered international attention after the alleged state sponsored hacking. If Sony was indeed attacked by North Korea in the manner claimed by the FBI it could reasonably be considered an act of war.

The Sony breach has now become international news and the movie is on the mind of the world. Sony was heavily pressured by the public to release the film after the hacking incident.

Originally, Sony indefinitely postponed the release after consulting with theater owners. The decision was based on the promised physical violence that hackers claimed would follow if they did. Claiming it was concerned for the welfare of US movie goers, Sony decided to cancel the US release.

Even President Obama criticized Sony in a press conference about this decision, stating that the company should not have pulled The Interview from theaters.

Since then, Sony has released the film on-line and in some movie theaters across the US. In response to this attack The Whitehouse plans to focus (at least in part) on cyber security during the upcoming State of the Union Address. Experts agree that a new Whitehouse sponsored cyber bill will be forthcoming.

Cyber Warefare

There are several reasons that countries are moving to cyber warfare.

First of all, it is normally quite difficult to prove who originated an attack. Even with all the evidence gathered by the FBI and other government agencies, many experts do not agree that we can definitively claim who was responsible for the attack. In fact, it is completely plausible that a group of rogue hackers managed to essentially frame North Korea because the US was already looking at other possible state sponsored hacking attacks before the incident involving Sony

Despite who is to blame, one thing is certain from looking at the disruptive nature of this attack. The hackers spent, comparatively speaking, very little in time, money, and resources to infiltrate Sony.

On the other hand, the company has since spent millions of dollars in cyber security, logistics, press releases, and slew of other unplanned expenditures. They have shouldered a huge financial burden due to this attack.

In the same vein, the US government has had congressional meetings, inquiries, and spent countless man hours trying to trace the origin of this attack and in developing, as President Obama stated, “An appropriate response.”

Even if North Korea was responsible for this attack and it can be proven, can we honestly claim victory? From a cost perspective in both time and money, hackers have the advantage.

In Summary

The Internet has been unsafe for several years. Malware, salacious material, and cyber bullying are not new issues that we have not faced previously, however, security has never been more critical than it is currently.

State sponsored hacking is still in its infancy and look what it has already achieved. Managing Internet connections and protecting sensitive networks is more crucial now than at any other time in history.

For more information on how you can protect yourself and your business, check out this article regarding the Five Steps to Protect Retailers from Credit Card Theft.

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