The Ridiculousness Of Turning The Sony Hack Into The 9/11 Of Computer Security
from the our-boys-fought-and-died-so-these-corporations-could-be-free-from-hacking! dept
Once again, our government is stepping up to help a beleaguered industry giant. Usually the MPAA would be involved (and maybe it is), along with some terrible legislation, but this time it’s Sony Pictures getting an assist from The Man.
Sony, which has no one to blame but itself for being nearly completely compromised, apparently has enough pull that the White House itself is ready to step up, publicly denounce and possibly punish the group behind the hacking. (via Boing Boing)
U.S. investigators have evidence that hackers stole the computer credentials of a system administrator to get access to Sony’s computer system, allowing them broad access, U.S. officials briefed on the investigation tell CNN. The finding is one reason why U.S. investigators do not believe the attack on Sony was aided by someone on the inside, the officials tell CNN.
These unnamed investigators and officials believe North Korea is behind Sony’s hacking. It will be interesting to see what they present to back up this claim, considering there seems to be evidence indicating otherwise. The furor over The Interview, the film that portrays the assassination of Kim Jong-un, wasn’t originally named as a motivation for Sony’s hacking. The media seized on this possibility first, and the hackers followed suit.
Even if the US government turns out to be correct, there are plenty of reasons why it shouldn’t react this way to the hacking of a private company. This is evidenced in White House press secretary Josh Earnest’s statement, which indicates the White House is willing to play right into the hackers’ hands.
He said the United States’ response would need to be “proportional,” and that national security officials considering how to respond are “also mindful of the fact that sophisticated actors when they carry out actions like this are oftentimes, not always, but often seeking to provoke a response from the United States.”
Nevertheless, a response appears to be on the way, even if it’s exactly what the hackers want. The Department of Homeland Security has even weighed in on the issue. Its director also attempts to hedge his statements, but still appears determined to do something about the attack.
“At this point we are not prepared to officially say who we believe was behind this attack,” Homeland Security Jeh Johnson told MSNBC on Thursday. “I will say this: We do regard the attack on Sony as very serious.”
Johnson described it as a “serious attack not only on individuals and a company but basic freedoms we enjoy in this country,” but did not want to label it terrorism.
“Not terrorism.” That’s a relief. But the attack didn’t have any effects on Americans’ basic freedoms. Instead, it was the studios themselves who turned into proxy censors by refusing to release The Interview to theaters or anywhere else. This was prompted by the hackers’ vague threats of violence if the movie was shown, but as cybersecurity expert Peter W. Singer pointed out at Vice, there’s miles of space between talking shit and backing it up.
Here, we need to distinguish between threat and capability—the ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously. I can’t believe I’m saying this. I can’t believe I have to say this.
It is mind-boggling to me, particularly when you compare it to real things that have actually happened. Someone killed 12 people and shot another 70 people at the opening night of Batman: The Dark Knight. They kept that movie in the theaters. You issue an anonymous cyber threat that you do not have the capability to carry out? We pulled a movie from 18,000 theaters.
Not only that, but theaters’ backup plans — to show the North Korea-baiting “Team America: World Police” in its place — have been scuttled by an equally panicky Paramount Pictures. So, the hackers have already received more of a response than they possibly could have hoped for. Now, the government is indicating it’s willing to appear just as foolish by offering a national response to the hacking of a single motion picture studio. Naming a scapegoat appears to be the primary focus.
Though officials say they are planning to lay blame on Friday, they haven’t yet decided how to respond to the attack.
Given that whatever sanctions or indictments accompanying are unlikely to have an effect on the hackers or whatever proxy nation the White House fingers, the government appears ready to go on record with its own shit talking. Any form of “backing it up” will still be over the distant horizon.
On Friday, our government will proudly denounce the hacking of Sony Pictures, an entity so insecure it has been hacked 56 times in the last 12 years. And we’ll do it to send this powerful message to the hackers of the world:
No matter who you are or where you call home, you can force the hand of the US government by embarrassing certain corporations.