Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
12-15-2014, 02:42 AM, (This post was last modified: 12-15-2014, 04:52 AM by john.)
Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
This is some nasty business. Who's next?


Quote:A glimpse into the world of North Korea's hacking elite
Summary:In the country dubbed the 'Hermit Kingdom,' just how does the cyber elite operate?

By Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | December 5, 2014 -- 10:52 GMT (02:52 PST)

[Image: nk.png]

North Korea. A country well-known for economic problems and poverty, starvation, lofty nuclear goals and a scathing hatred of the United States -- which controls "puppet" South Korean leaders -- is also a land where social class often dictates a person's position in life.

The idea of "songbun" describes a person's social value depending on family connections. In order to attend top universities such as the Kim il-sung university, a student not only needs top grades and a flawless record, but the right background. Should a student succeed, the songbun of the student's family may be raised.

North Korea, despite its self-imposed isolation, desperately requires technology and knowledge from the West, especially surrounding science, agriculture and manufacturing. While international leaders have criticized the country for alleged human rights abuse and nuclear programs, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology remains funded by the West, and is one of few institutions that allow Western teachers.

The leader of the country, Kim Jong-un, has poured resources into nuclear programs while much of the population goes hungry, and now, investment is heavy in the next-generation weapons of warfare -- skills in hacking and computer science.

While access to the Internet is strictly controlled for the masses, for some, specialization in the web and computer networks has created an elite class, set apart.

In an interesting feature published by Reuters, the news agency reveals the existence of a North Korean cell called Bureau 121. According to defectors from the state, the most talented computer experts in the country are recruited into the unit, which is part of the General Bureau of Reconnaissance. The bureau focuses on spying -- going far beyond reliance on human snitching to maintain control -- and instead dedicates itself to the surveillance of foreign powers.

According to Reuters sources, the agency is also involved in state-sponsored hacking, ordered by the Pyongyang government to sabotage enemies.

One only has to scan the website of the DPRK, the state-run official news agency of North Korea, to see potential targets.

Technically still in a state of war with the north, South Korea is often a target of the country's attacks. However, North Korea has also made no secret of its hatred of the United States, and so the country has come under suspicion for the recent attack on Sony's networks.

Sony's internal systems were hacked last month, which resulted in sensitive data belonging to employees and contractors being leaked online. From passport photocopies to passwords and internal audit documents, more and more damage is being revealed every day.

A hacking group called Guardians of Peace are believed to be to blame, but North Korea is under scrutiny in particular.

Why? A film called "The Interview" may be the culprit. The film, which follows two journalists hired by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un, received complaints from North Korean officials which were ignored by the United Nations. North Korea later described the film as an "act of war."

However, it is worth noting this phrase is used often by the state against South Korea and the United States, and as of yet, has never been acted upon.

When North Korean officials were asked whether the country was the source of the cyberattack, the ambiguous phrase "Wait and see" was given in response.

Jang Se-yul, a former student of North Korea's military college for computer science, said candidates for Bureau 121 are handpicked as young as 17 years of age. The destination for chosen students is the University of Automation. After five years of study at the Pyongyang-based campus, the students graduate to join Bureau 121. Places are highly sought after, with 100 accepted for every 2,500 applicants.

Approximately 1,800 hackers are in employ at the unit, conducting campaigns under the umbrella of what is known as the "Secret War" in the state.

The unit also has overseas teams, one of which a friend of Jang Se-yul's works within, earning him and his family a large apartment in upscale Pyongyang. As the only city seen by foreign visitors -- and bedecked as a result -- entry into Pyongyang is highly sought after and rarely granted by the ruling party. Officially, the hacker is an employee of a trade firm.

Jang said:

No one knows [..] his company runs business as usual. That's why what he does is scarier. My friend, who belongs to a rural area, could bring all of his family to Pyongyang. Incentives for North Korea's cyber experts are very strong [..] they are rich people in Pyongyang.

According to Kaspersky Labs and other researchers, malware launched against Sony is similar to attacks levied against South Korea. Last year, over 30,000 PCs at South Korean banks and broadcasting firms were hit, and the malware in question, "DarkSeoul," has striking familiarities to the software used in Sony's security breach.

12-15-2014, 04:44 AM, (This post was last modified: 12-15-2014, 10:51 AM by john.)
RE: North Korea and Hacking
Quote:NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
The Sony Pictures hack was already bad, but it's getting much worse...

Quote:13 revelations from the Sony hack
The Sony Pictures hack has exposed the inner workings of one of Hollywood's biggest studios.

by Seth Rosenblatt
@sethr December 13, 2014 9:49 AM PST

Prescient or humorous? Emailed comments about hacking, from actor George Clooney (seen here at the New York Comic Con in October 2014), showed up in documents leaked from the Sony hack.
Prescient or humorous? Emailed comments about hacking, from actor George Clooney (seen here at the New York Comic Con in October 2014), showed up in documents leaked from the Sony hack.
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images, for Disney
Sony Pictures has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad few weeks since November 24. That's when hackers broke in to its computer networks and leaked thousands of financial documents and emails revealing the film studio's inner secrets.

Some of the revelations have been merely interesting, a few have been shocking invasions of privacy, while others could damage individual reputations. All of the revelations have been reported previously in a variety of publications.

Here are 13 things we didn't know about Sony:

1) Men are paid more than women
Sony's 17 biggest-earning executives are predominantly white men. According to a spreadsheet called "Comp Roster by Supervisory Organization 2014-10-21," Amy Pascal, the co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment is the only woman earning $1 million or more at the studio.

2) It's not just executives
Sony paid Jennifer Lawrence less than it paid Christian Bale or Bradley Cooper, her co-stars in last year's hit movie "American Hustle." Lawrence was paid 7 percent of the movie's profit, while Bale and Cooper received 9 percent, according to emails sent to Pascal.

3) Quid pro quo at play
Emails between Pascal and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd suggest Dowd promised to show Pascal's husband a copy of a column before publishing it. Pascal's husband is former Times reporter Bernard Weinraub. Dowd denied the allegations.

4) What would Steve Jobs do?
Sony had the rights to produce the new Aaron Sorkin-written biopic of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. And then it didn't. Emails show that Sony considered putting Tom Cruise in the lead role. Eventually, though, the movie slipped out of Sony's hands. Rights to the film were sold to Universal earlier this year.

"I feel like I just gave away a seminal movie, like citizen Kane [sic] for our time," Pascal wrote in an email to a colleague. "[I] already think i may have made the worst decisions of my career."

5) It ain't pretty
A series of emails between Pascal and movie producer Scott Rudin showed an ugly side to the beautiful business of Hollywood. Rudin called Angelina Jolie a "minimally talented spoiled brat" in an email exchange with Pascal. Pascal and Rudin also made racially charged jokes about President Obama's taste in movies. As you would expect, Pascal and Rudin apologized, saying they are so sorry for what they said.

6) Too much information
Sony's human-resources department had detailed medical records of three dozen employees and their family members. One internal memo revealed a staff member's child with special needs, including the child's type of treatment. The memo talked about the employee's appeal of insurance provider Aetna's denial of thousands of dollars in medical claims.

7) REALLY too much information
Another HR document detailed the medical costs for 34 Sony employees and their family members who had very high medical bills. Medical conditions included premature births, cancer, kidney failure and alcoholic liver cirrhosis.

8) I'll scratch your back...
Sony executives discussed a new "Men in Black" film featuring characters from the company's "21 Jump Street" property, and a deal with Disney's Marvel Studios so Spider-Man could make an appearance in the upcoming "Captain America: Civil War."

9) Pretend you don't know me
Celebrities really do use aliases to protect their identities. Sarah Michelle Gellar goes by "Neely O'Hara" (a troubled Hollywood star in Jacqueline Susann's 1966 novel "Valley of the Dolls" and the film based on it). Tobey Maguire checks into hotels as "Neil Deep," and Tom Hanks uses two aliases: "Harry Lauder" (a turn-of-the-century Scottish vaudevillian) and "Johnny Madrid" (a gunslinger in the late '60s TV Western "Lancer"). Well, not anymore.

10) James Bond isn't cheap
The next James Bond movie, "Spectre," is over budget by $50 million, and already is expected to cost $50 million more than the previous Bond film, "Skyfall."

11) Who you gonna call?
An email from Ivan Reitman, director of "Ghostbusters," revealed that Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Melissa McCarthy and Amy Schumer all said they'd be interested in appearing in a "Ghostbusters" reboot.

12) Yada yada yada
Sony Pictures pocketed $5.85 million over three years thanks to a syndication deal for a show about nothing: "Seinfeld." The last new episode aired 16 years ago. Who knew?

13) George Clooney knows all, sees all
George Clooney looks either prescient or humorous in an email to Pascal with the subject line: "knowing this email is being hacked." Sent September 5, the email appears to reference a movie he will direct called "Hack Attack," about British tabloids' phone-hacking scandal. "For those of you listening in...I'm the son of a news man...everything will be double come on with your lawsuits," he wrote.

Neither Sony Pictures nor Amy Pascal responded to requests for comment.

Quote:Sony’s International Incident: Making Kim Jong-un’s Head Explode

TOKYO — When Sony Pictures began casting last year for a new comedy to be called “The Interview,” early scripts included the assassination of a fictionalized North Korean ruler. It was not until auditions began that actors learned that the movie would portray something much more brazen: the violent killing of the actual leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

Sony’s executives now say they knew that basing a film on the assassination of a living national leader — even a ruthless dictator — had inherent risks. But the studio seems to have gotten much more than it bargained for by bankrolling what it hoped would be an edgy comedy.

The still very-much-alive Mr. Kim, the leader of an isolated and unpredictable nuclear-armed nation, appears not to have been amused when the premise of the comedy became clear. North Korea branded the $40 million film, to be released on Dec. 25, “an act of war” and vowed a “resolute and merciless response.”...
12-15-2014, 10:26 AM,
RE: Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
good read john !
12-16-2014, 08:31 PM,
RE: Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
Quote:Sony to Theater Owners: Pull 'The Interview' If You Want

As hackers issued new threats of violence on Tuesday, Sony Pictures began telling theater owners who had booked The Interview that they are free to drop the movie, and that the studio will support them whatever decision they make.

The situation appears to be very fluid: Neither the National Association of Theatre Owners nor the individual national theaters chains have yet publicly spoken about the situation. But according to some insiders, exhibitors are wary of becoming liable if they show the movie and any violence occurs...
12-17-2014, 06:46 PM,
RE: Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
Quote:Variety ‏@Variety 11m11 minutes ago
Sony has decided against releasing #TheInterview in any form — including VOD or DVD.

Quote:Sony Pictures Entertainment has walked out on “The Interview,” deciding against releasing the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy in any form — including VOD or DVD.

“Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” a spokesman said Wednesday.

The studio issued the statement a few hours after pulling the planned Christmas Day release of “The Interview” in response to the hackers who threatened movie theaters and moviegoers if the comedy were released.

The move could open the door for Sony to sell the rights to a rival distributor — though Hollywood is still reeling from Tuesday’s invocation of a possible 9/11-type attack on exhibitors who screened “The Interview.”

Prior to the decision to pull the film, a Sony Pictures insider had told Variety that the studio was weighing releasing the film on premium video-on-demand. Such a move would have allowed the studio to recoup some of the film’s $42 million budget and tens of millions in promotion and advertising expenditures.
12-17-2014, 11:40 PM, (This post was last modified: 12-17-2014, 11:42 PM by Tusk.)
RE: Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
The Real Reason for the hack? Tongue

Quote:8) I'll scratch your back...
Sony executives discussed a new "Men in Black" film featuring characters from the company's "21 Jump Street" property, and a deal with Disney's Marvel Studios so Spider-Man could make an appearance in the upcoming "Captain America: Civil War."

Quote:li bri ‏@lucha_libri 30m30 minutes ago
@cbgirl19 friend or foe?!?

[Image: B5HPbgQCEAAt1Gq.jpg:large]

12-18-2014, 04:42 PM, (This post was last modified: 12-18-2014, 06:37 PM by john.)
RE: Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
Quote:'Team America: World Police' screenings canceled
Following Wednesday’s news that Sony was canceling the Christmas release of The Interview, now another movie lampooning a North Korean dictator will not be seen in theaters: At least two theaters have said their upcoming screenings of Team America: World Police have been canceled by Paramount.

On Wednesday, the Dallas/Fort Worth Alamo Drafthouse explained on Twitter that it would have continued showing The Interview despite the fact that a number of theater chains had dropped screenings—but because Sony had now pulled The Interview from all theaters, the Drafthouse would show Team America, which features a villainous Kim Jong-il puppet, in its place...

Alamo Drafthouse said in a statement, “We can confirm that the screening of TEAM AMERICA was cancelled as the film was pulled from release...

The Cleveland-based Capitol Theatre, tweeted earlier today that it was planning to show the movie from the team behind South Park in June, but then later reported: “. . . we just received word: Paramount has pulled all future screenings of Team America. Ours is canceled. Sad.” ...

Blackmail seems to be working, along with additional threats. As far as The Interview goes, five large theater chains have said they won't run it, even if Sony releases it.

[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRWh0iRq3yVL7ES4vaVJ2O...o3exfsVSuF]

Back on November 28 Yahoo ran this:
Quote:North Korea Is Still Trying to End 'The Interview'

North Korean government-controlled website Uriminzokkiri released a statement on Friday condemning The Interview, ahead of next month’s opening of the film by James Franco and Seth Rogen.

A statement, published under a pen name, denounces the film that depicts a farcical mission to assassinate Kim Jong Un, as an “evil act of provocation” that deserves “stern punishment.”
Related: Kim Jong Un Is Quite Lovable in Final Trailer for ‘The Interview’

"The cheekiness to show this conspiracy movie, which is comprised of utter distortions of the truth and absurd imaginations, is an evil act of provocation against our highly dignified republic and an insult against our righteous people," it says, going on to criticize the filmmakers.

"The trashy filmmakers, who, won over by a few dollars thrown to them by conspirators, have compromised the dignity and conscience of filmmaking and dared to produce and direct such a film. They must be subject to our stern punishment."...

I find many aspects of the situation quite disturbing.

From Team America (strong language)

Trailer for The Interview (I'm sure it won't be up long)
12-22-2014, 10:37 PM,
RE: Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
What goes around, comes around.

Quote:North Korea’s Internet is going suspiciously haywire

North Korea's shaky Internet infrastructure has been suffering from widespread outages this week, North Korea watchers said, who added that the network failures were highly unusual, even for the reclusive nation....
12-23-2014, 12:19 PM,
RE: Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
Quote:Seth Rogen @Sethrogen · 12m 12 minutes ago
The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn't give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!
12-25-2014, 04:53 PM, (This post was last modified: 12-25-2014, 04:54 PM by john.)
RE: Sony, North Korea, and Hacking
Quote:Critics hate 'The Interview'

Movie critics say the controversy surrounding “The Interview” is much more interesting than the movie itself

The movie is scoring just a 50 percent positive review from critics on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

It’s fairing even more poorly with top critics, who give it a measly 32 percent positive rating...

Guest • 8 hours ago
How many of you think this whole Sony hacking might be a scam to prop up a $70 million boondoggle?
12 • Reply•Share ›

justlittlolme Guest • 8 hours ago
I've wondered that from the beginning. NK may be a worshiping cult as far as their 'dear leader' is concerned, but even THEY know what comes out of Hollywood is unadulterated mental slop.
3 • Reply•Share ›
Avatar Guest • 3 minutes ago
said that the day it 'happened'
• Reply•Share ›
popeye2010 • 8 hours ago
Best PR campaign for a bad movie since Ishtar.
9 • Reply•Share ›
mrvco popeye2010 • 2 minutes ago
I concur.

I think Sony may have decided to make Lemonade in a bad situation. But the new narrative that it was all a publicity stunt is a bit much.

Offend the president and star actors...create an international incident...provoke involvement by the FBI, NSA, CIA ... release private medical records of family members of employees...tarnish the Sony brand...risk long prison sentences for those involved...etc. I think not.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)