PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK

CYBERWAR: FBI BLAMES NORTH KOREA FOR SONY HACK 

PHOTO: SONY ENTERTAINMENT CENTER --President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures Entertainment "made a mistake" in deciding to shelve a film about a plot to assassinate North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un even though the studio suffered significant damage in a hack attack the FBI blames on the secretive Communist regime. "I wish they had spoken to me first," Obama said of Sony executives at a year-end news conference in which he said, "we cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship ..."  READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: HACKERS TO SONY: If You Make Any More Trouble, We'll Destroy You!  

PHOTO: The image shown on employee computers – we’ve blurred out the links to leaked documents. ports that Sony Pictures has been hacked have been trickling in this morning, after a thread appeared on Reddit claiming all computers at the company were offline due to a hack. According to the Reddit thread, an image appeared on all employee’s computers reading “Hacked by #GOP” and demanding their “requests be met” along with links to leaked data. The Reddit user that posted the thread posted a year ago that they worked at Sony Pictures.--The Sony hackers have sent another chilling email to top executives at the company. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALS0) Obama vows response as FBI blames North Korea
The US president said Sony made a mistake in not releasing its film

PHOTO: President Barack Obama has vowed a US
response after North Korea's alleged cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. The US leader also said the studio "made a mistake" in cancelling the Christmas release of The Interview, a satire depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Sony said it still planned to release the film "on a different platform". On Friday US authorities linked North Korea to the hack, which saw sensitive studio information publicly released. Sony said it cancelled the planned Christmas release of the film after a majority of cinemas refused to show it following anonymous threats. "We will respond," Mr Obama told reporters on Friday, declining to offer specifics. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: North Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.

PHOTO: NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG UN ---North Korea said U.S. accusations that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were "groundless slander" and that it was wanted a joint investigation into the incident with the United States. An unnamed spokesman of the North's foreign ministry said there would be "grave consequences" if Washington refused to agree to the joint probe and continued to accuse Pyongyang, the official KCNA news agency reported on Saturday. On Friday, President Barack Obama blamed North Korea for the devastating cyberattack, which led to the Hollywood studio cancelling "The Interview", a comedy on the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. READ FULL REPORT FROM REUTERS...

ALSO: What is FBI evidence for North Korea hack attack?

PHOTO: Poster for the film The Interview outside of Regal Theatre in New York, 18 Dec ---The FBI's evidence has not been fully laid out. The FBI's analysis has concluded North Korea is to blame for the attack on Sony Pictures - but how can it be sure? As well Pyongyang having a motive for taking serious issue with The Interview, there's a couple of pieces of key evidence the US is now using to pin the blame. However, they're not without flaws. As security researcher Brian Honan put it to me earlier: "I still don't see anything that in a court would convict North Korea beyond reasonable doubt."  So let's take a look. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO THE SONY HACK STORY: Did North Korea order Sony Pictures hack over Kim Jong-un assassination movie The Interview? 

PHOTO: The Interview is a comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, played by Randall ParkThe Interview is a comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, played by Randall Park.  ---Sony Pictures Entertainment is reportedly investigating the possibility that North Korea was behind the recent hack of its systems  READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Sony hack: Salaries of Hollywood’s biggest players revealed as North Korea denies involvement 

PHOTO: The latest reports –revealed on file-sharing site Pastebin – show how much Seth Rogen and James Franco made for upcoming film The Interview. ---Reports have suggested that North Korea may have been involved after taking offence to The Interview.The salaries of a number of Hollywood actors have been leaked after movie giant Sony was hacked last week. The latest reports –revealed on file-sharing site Pastebin – show how much Seth Rogen and James Franco made for upcoming film The Interview. READ FULL REPORT...

THE REAL KIM JONG UN: North Korea's Kim rules through continued purges by KIYOYUKI UCHIYAMA, Nikkei staff writer 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remains one of the most enigmatic public figures in the world. © Yonhap=Kyodo ---SEOUL --  North Korea's Kim Jong Un continues to rule with an iron fist over a seemingly stable regime a year after executing his then second-in-command, but the young leader's unpredictable nature has neighboring countries sweating. Kim Jong Un became the de facto head of the hermit nation in December 2011, after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. He executed his uncle and adviser, Jang Song Thaek, two years later for treason. Most believe Jang was actually eliminated because he had accumulated too much power. At around 31 years old, Kim is extremely vigilant about threats to his power. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

CYBERWAR: FBI blames North Korea for Sony hack


THE SONY HACK; PHOTO OF THE SONY ENTERTAINMENT CENTER

WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 22, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Eric Tucker (Associated Press) President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures Entertainment "made a mistake" in deciding to shelve a film about a plot to assassinate North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un even though the studio suffered significant damage in a hack attack the FBI blames on the secretive Communist regime.

"I wish they had spoken to me first," Obama said of Sony executives at a year-end news conference in which he said, "we cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship ..."

Envisioning other potential flashpoints, he summoned situations in which dictators "start seeing a documentary that they don't like or news reports that they don't like."

"We will respond" to the attack,' he added, although he offered no details.

The president spoke a few hours after the FBI formally accused the North Korean government of being responsible for the devastating hacking attack against Sony, providing the most detailed accounting to date of a hugely expensive break-in that could lead to a U.S. response.

The FBI said in a statement it that it now has enough evidence to conclude that North Korea was behind the punishing breach, which resulted in the disclosure of tens of thousands of leaked emails and other materials.

"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. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior," the statement said.

The FBI's statement cited, among other factors, technical similarities between the Sony break-in and past "malicious cyber activity" linked directly to North Korea, including a prior cyberattack against South Korean banks and media.

A group identifying itself as Guardians of Peace has taken responsibility for the Sony breach, which was reported in late November and involved the use of destructive malware that caused the studio to take its entire computer network offline left thousands of computers inoperable and "significantly disrupted the company's business operations," the FBI said.

The break-in has had wide-ranging ramifications for the studio, spilling into public view candid and confidential discussions among executives and leading to lawsuits from those who say their personal and financial data was exposed online. This week, the cyber-attack escalated with terrorist threats against movie theaters that planned to show the movie "The Interview," a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen that for months has been condemned by the North Korean government.

In response to the threats, Sony canceled the Christmas Day release of the film — a comedy about a plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un and said it had no further plans to distribute it.

After Sony shelved the film's release, hackers sent a new email praising the studio's decision as "very wise" and saying its data would be safe "as long as you make no more trouble." The message warned the studio to "never" release the film "in any form," including on DVD. The email was confirmed Friday by a person close to the studio who wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the matter and requested anonymity. An FBI spokesman said authorities were aware of the email and were investigating.

The Motion Picture Association of America called the Sony attack a "despicable, criminal act" that threatened the lives of thousands of people in the film and television industries.

North Korea has denied responsibility but earlier this month referred to the cyberattack as a "righteous deed." A North Korean diplomat to the United Nations, Kim Un Chol, declined to comment Friday about the FBI's accusations.

Obama administration officials had until Friday declined to openly blame North Korea but had said they were weighing various options for a response. The statement Friday did not reveal what options were being considered but did say the government would look to "impose costs and consequences."

At first glance, the options for a U.S. response seem limited. Bringing the shadowy hackers to justice appears a distant prospect. A U.S. cyberretaliation against North Korea would risk a dangerous escalation. And North Korea is already targeted by a raft of sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.

The FBI did not indicate whether it has identified any individual hackers who might be culpable. In May, the Justice Department announced indictments against five Chinese military officers accused of vast cyberespionage against American corporate interests, but none of those defendants has yet to set foot in an American courtroom.


FROM THE BUSINESS INSIDER DOT COM

HACKERS TO SONY: If You Make Any More Trouble, We'll Destroy You STEVE KOVACH DEC. 19, 2014, 10:46 AM 21,289 32


The image shown on employee computers – we’ve blurred out the links to leaked documents. ports that Sony Pictures has been hacked have been trickling in this morning, after a thread appeared on Reddit claiming all computers at the company were offline due to a hack. According to the Reddit thread, an image appeared on all employee’s computers reading “Hacked by #GOP” and demanding their “requests be met” along with links to leaked data. The Reddit user that posted the thread posted a year ago that they worked at Sony Pictures.

The Sony hackers have sent another chilling email to top executives at the company.
CNN's Brian Stelter obtained the email.

In the email, the hackers say Sony made the right decision pulling "The Interview," which portrayed the assassination of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

US officials believe the hackers were backed by North Korea.

Those hackers promised not to leak any more private Sony data unless Sony reverses its decision and distributes the movie anyway.

Here's the email, as read on air by Stelter:

It's very wise that you have made a decision to cancel the release of "The Interview." It will be very useful for you ... We ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.

According to TheWrap, several Sony employees received another message from a person claiming to be the head of the "Guardians of Peace" warning the studio to not release "The Interview" in any form.

Here's the message in full from TheWrap:

“Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy.”
“we still have your private and sensitive data” and claims that they will “ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble.”
“And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.”
Sony decided to pull "The Interview" premiere on Wednesday after five of the top movie-theater chains said they wouldn't show the movie following threats by the hackers, known as Guardians of Peace (GOP).

Sony said it had no plans to release the movie through video on demand or online.

Sony's decision has caused a lot of debate about what kind of precedent it sets when a major corporation bends to the will of hackers or terrorists.

The FBI announced on Friday afternoon that North Korea was involved in the Sony hacks.


FROM BBC, UK

Sony hack: Obama vows response as FBI blames North Korea
The US president said Sony made a mistake in not releasing its film


President Barack Obama has vowed a US response after North Korea's alleged cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

The US leader also said the studio "made a mistake" in cancelling the Christmas release of The Interview, a satire depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Sony said it still planned to release the film "on a different platform".

On Friday US authorities linked North Korea to the hack, which saw sensitive studio information publicly released.

Sony said it cancelled the planned Christmas release of the film after a majority of cinemas refused to show it following anonymous threats.

"We will respond," Mr Obama told reporters on Friday, declining to offer specifics. "We will respond proportionately and in a space, time and manner that we choose."

He added: "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship in the United States."

The US leader said it was important to protect both public and private cyber-systems from attack which could have significant economic and social impacts.

Mr Obama also noted he believed Sony Pictures was mistaken in failing to go ahead with the release.

"Americans cannot change their patterns of behaviour due to the possibility of a terrorist attack," he said. "That's not who we are, that's not what America is about."

line
Analysis: Dave Lee, BBC technology reporter

The FBI say it spotted distinct similarities between the type of malware used in the Sony Pictures attack and code used to attack South Korea last year.

Suspicious, yes, but well short of being a smoking gun. When any malware is discovered, it is shared around many experts for analysis - any attacker could simply reversion the code for their own use, like a cover version of a song.

But there's another, better clue: IP addresses - locations, essentially - known to be part of "North Korean infrastructure" formed part of the malware too.

This suggests the attack may have been controlled by people who have acted for North Korea in the past.

What is the FBI evidence?

Sony Pictures chief executive and chairman Michael Lynton later told CNN it had not made an error in pulling the film.

He said the president, press and public were mistaken about the withdrawal, saying the decision had only been taken after major chains had refused to screen it.

He said: "We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down."

A Sony statement on Friday said that the firm was "actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform".

"It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so," the statement said.

Earlier on Friday, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation officially tied North Korea to the cyber-attack, linking the country to malware used in the incident.

Hackers had earlier issued a warning referring to the 11 September 2001 terror attacks, saying "the world will be full of fear" if the film was screened.


Poster for movie satire The Interview: The duo play journalists enlisted to kill Kim Jong-un

The movie features James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists who are granted an audience with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The CIA then enlists the pair to assassinate him. The film was due to have been released over Christmas.

The film's cancelled release drew criticism in Hollywood, with some calling it an attack on the freedom of expression.

Actor George Clooney told the trade website Deadline on Thursday the film should be released online, saying Hollywood shouldn't be threatened by North Korea.

In November, a cyber-attack crippled computers at Sony and led to upcoming films and workers' personal data being leaked online.

The hackers also released salary details and social security numbers for thousands of Sony employees - including celebrities.


Kim Jong-Un with North Korean soldiers' families: North Korea says the film hurts the "dignity of its supreme leadership"


North Korea earlier this month denied involvement in the hack - but praised the attack itself as a "righteous deed".

An article on North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency, quoting the country's top military body, said suggestions that Pyongyang was behind the attack were "wild rumour".

However, it warned the US that "there are a great number of supporters and sympathisers" of North Korea "all over the world" who may have carried out the attack.

In the article, Sony Pictures was accused of "abetting a terrorist act" and "hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership" of North Korea by producing the movie.


FROM DEADLINEBREAKINGNEWS.COM

Hollywood Cowardice: George Clooney Explains Why Sony Stood Alone In North Korean Cyberterror Attack by Mike Fleming Jr December 18, 2014 6:14pm


FROM DFREE / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM George Clooney tried to convince Hollywood to show their support for Sony, but everyone was too scared to sign a goddamned letter.

EXCLUSIVE: As it begins to dawn on everyone in Hollywood the reality that Sony Pictures was the victim of a cyberterrorist act perpetrated by a hostile foreign nation on American soil, questions will be asked about how and why it happened, ending with Sony cancelling the theatrical release of the satirical comedy The Interview because of its depiction of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

One of those issues will be this: Why didn’t anybody speak out while Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton were embarrassed by emails served up by the media, bolstering the credibility of hackers for when they attached as a cover letter to Lynton’s emails a threat to blow up theaters if The Interview was released?

George Clooney has the answer. The most powerful people in Hollywood were so fearful to place themselves in the cross hairs of hackers that they all refused to sign a simple petition of support that Clooney and his agent, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, circulated to the top people in film, TV, records and other areas. Not a single person would sign.

Here, Clooney discusses the petition and how it is just part of many frightening ramifications that we are all just coming to grips with.

DEADLINE: How could this have happened, that terrorists achieved their aim of cancelling a major studio film? We watched it unfold, but how many people realized that Sony legitimately was under attack?

GEORGE CLOONEY: A good portion of the press abdicated its real duty. They played the fiddle while Rome burned. There was a real story going on. With just a little bit of work, you could have found out that it wasn’t just probably North Korea; it was North Korea. The Guardians of Peace is a phrase that Nixon used when he visited China. When asked why he was helping South Korea, he said it was because we are the Guardians of Peace. Here, we’re talking about an actual country deciding what content we’re going to have. This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have. That’s the truth. What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it?

Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down. Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.

We have a new paradigm, a new reality, and we’re going to have to come to real terms with it all the way down the line. This was a dumb comedy that was about to come out. With the First Amendment, you’re never protecting Jefferson; it’s usually protecting some guy who’s burning a flag or doing something stupid. This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this. That’s not just Sony, but all of us, including my good friends in the press who have the responsibility to be asking themselves: What was important? What was the important story to be covering here?

The hacking is terrible because of the damage they did to all those people. Their medical records, that is a horrible thing, their Social Security numbers. Then, to turn around and threaten to blow people up and kill people, and just by that threat alone we change what we do for a living, that’s the actual definition of terrorism.

DEADLINE: I’ve been chasing the story of the petition you were circulating for a week now. Where is it, and how were these terrorists able to isolate Sony from the herd and make them so vulnerable?

CLOONEY: Here’s the brilliant thing they did. You embarrass them first, so that no one gets on your side.

After the Obama joke, no one was going to get on the side of Amy, and so suddenly, everyone ran for the hills. Look, I can’t make an excuse for that joke, it is what it is, a terrible mistake. Having said that, it was used as a weapon of fear, not only for everyone to disassociate themselves from Amy but also to feel the fear themselves. They know what they themselves have written in their emails, and they’re afraid.

DEADLINE: What happened when you sent the petition, and who did you ask to sign it?

CLOONEY: It was a large number of people. It was sent to basically the heads of every place. They told Bryan Lourd, “I can’t sign this.” What? How can you not sign this? I’m not going to name anyone, that’s not what I’m here to do, but nobody signed the letter, which I’ll read to you right now.

On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country. Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorize these workers. The hackers have made both demands and threats. The demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their threats vary from personal—you better behave wisely—to threatening physical harm—not only you but your family is in danger. North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they’ve done so far is only a small part of our further plan. This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.

DEADLINE: That doesn’t sound like a hard paper to sign.

CLOONEY: All that it is basically saying is, we’re not going to give in to a ransom. As we watched one group be completely vilified, nobody stood up. Nobody took that stand. Now, I say this is a situation we are going to have to come to terms with, a new paradigm and a new way of handling our business. Because this could happen to an electric company, a car company, a newsroom. It could happen to anybody.

DEADLINE: You said you won’t name names, but how many people were asked and refused to sign?

CLOONEY: It was a fairly large number. Having put together telethons where you have to get all the networks on board to do the telethon at the same time, the truth is once you get one or two, then everybody gets on board. It is a natural progression. So here, you get the first couple of people to sign it and … well, nobody wanted to be the first to sign on. Now, this isn’t finger-pointing on that. This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made. Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don’t know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal. A huge deal. And people are still talking about dumb emails. Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention.

DEADLINE: What kind of constraints will this put on storytellers that want to shine a critical light on a place like Russia, for instance, with something like a movie about the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the KGB officer who left and became an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin?

CLOONEY: What’s going to happen is, you’re going to have trouble finding distribution. In general, when you’re doing films like that, the ones that are critical, those aren’t going to be studio films anyway. Most of the movies that got us in trouble, we started out by raising the money independently. But to distribute, you’ve got to go to a studio, because they’re the ones that distribute movies. The truth is, you’re going to have a much harder time finding distribution now. And that’s a chilling effect. We should be in the position right now of going on offense with this. I just talked to Amy an hour ago. She wants to put that movie out.

What do I do? My partner Grant Heslov and I had the conversation with her this morning. Bryan and I had the conversation with her last night. Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie. That’s the most important part. We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all f*cking people.

DEADLINE: Some have pointed fingers at the media that feasted on these tawdry emails. Were they culpable in giving the terrorists a foothold, as Aaron Sorkin has said?

CLOONEY: I do know something about the news world. I was sitting on the floors of newsrooms since I was seven years old, and I’ve been around them my whole life. I understand that someone looks at a story with famous people in it and you want to put it out. OK. It’s a drag, and it’s lame. But there’s not much you can do about it. You can’t legislate good taste. The problem is that what happened was, while all of that was going on, there was a huge news story that no one was really tracking. They were just enjoying all the salacious sh*t instead of saying, “Wait a minute, is this really North Korea? And if it is, are we really going to bow to that?” You could point fingers at Sony pulling the film, but they didn’t have any theaters, they all pulled out.

By the way, the other studios were probably very happy because they had movies of their own going in for Christmas at the same cineplexes. There’s this constant circle, this feeding frenzy. What I’m concerned about is content. I’m concerned that content now is constantly going to be judged on a different level. And that’s a terrible thing to do. What we don’t need happening in any of our industries is censorship. The FBI guys said this could have happened to our government. That’s how good these guys were. It’s a serious moment in time that needs to be addressed seriously, as opposed to frivolously. That’s what is most important here.

DEADLINE: As Amy and Michael took their turn in the barrel because of these emails, some questioned why they’d approve a movie that ends with the death of a standing dictator in a hostile foreign country. Others have said she should be able to make any film she wants. It’s a satire. What do you think?

CLOONEY: The South Park guys did it. They blew up his father’s head. The truth of the matter is, of course you should be able to make any movie you want. And, you should take the ramifications for it. Meaning, people can boycott the movie and not go see your film. They can say they’ll never see a Sony movie again. That’s all fine. That’s the risk you take for the decision you make. But to say we’re going to make you pull it. We’re going to censor you. That’s a whole other game. That is playing in some serious waters and it’s a very dangerous pool.

DEADLINE: You mentioned Team America. Some theaters wanted to show it on Christmas after The Interview was pulled as a show of defiance and Paramount pulled it back. They too are afraid of being in the hacker cross hairs.

CLOONEY: Everybody is looking at this from self interest and they are right in this sense. I’m a movie theater and I say, “OK, there’s been a threat. Not really a credible threat, but there’s a threat, and my lawyers call and tell me, “Well, you run the movie and you could be liable.” And all the other movies around it are going to have their business hurt. I understand that, and it makes complete sense. But that’s where we really need to figure what the real response should be. I don’t know what that is yet. We should be talking about that and not pointing fingers at people right now. Right now, it’s not just our community but a lot of communities. We need to figure out, what are we going to do now — when we know the cyberattacks are real, and they’re state-sponsored.


OBAMA AND KIM JONG UN

DEADLINE: Knowing what we do now, what does the government owe Sony?

CLOONEY: I’ve seen statements they’ve put out and what the president said and what the response is. The truth is, it’s all new territory and nobody knows how to handle it. I don’t think anyone was prepared for it. So now we’ll be prepared for it, hopefully. Everybody was doing their jobs, but somehow, we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane.

DEADLINE: You said everyone acts based on self interest. What’s yours?

CLOONEY: I wanted to have the conversation because I’m worried about content. Frankly, I’m at an age where I’m not doing action films or romantic comedies. The movies we make are the ones with challenging content, and I don’t want to see it all just be superhero movies. Nothing wrong with them, but it’s nice for people to have other films out there.


FROM YAHOO NEWS

North Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S. Reuters By Jack Kim and Steve Holland 2 hours ago


31-YEAR-OLD NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG UN

North Korea says its supporters may be behind Sony attack (Reuters)

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea said U.S. accusations that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were "groundless slander" and that it was wanted a joint investigation into the incident with the United States.

An unnamed spokesman of the North's foreign ministry said there would be "grave consequences" if Washington refused to agree to the joint probe and continued to accuse Pyongyang, the official KCNA news agency reported on Saturday.

On Friday, President Barack Obama blamed North Korea for the devastating cyberattack, which led to the Hollywood studio cancelling "The Interview", a comedy on the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In its first substantive response to the accusation, the isolated North Korea said it could prove it had nothing to do with the massive hacking attack.

"We propose to conduct a joint investigation with the U.S. in response to groundless slander being perpetrated by the U.S. by mobilizing public opinion," the North Korean spokesman said.

"If the U.S. refuses to accept our proposal for a joint investigation and continues to talk about some kind of response by dragging us into the case, it must remember there will be grave consequences," the spokesman said.

Earlier, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation announced it had determined that North Korea was behind the hacking of Sony, saying Pyongyang's actions fell "outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior".

Obama said North Korea appeared to have acted alone. Washington began consultations with Japan, China, South Korea and Russia seeking their assistance in reining in North Korea. {ID:nL1N0U32BR]

Japan and South Korea said they would cooperate. China, North Korea's only major ally, has yet to respond, but a Beijing-run newspaper said "The Interview" was not a movie for Hollywood and U.S. society to be proud of.

"The vicious mocking of Kim is only a result of senseless cultural arrogance," the newspaper said.

It was the first time the United States had directly accused another country of a cyberattack of such magnitude on American soil and set up a possible new confrontation between longtime foes Washington and Pyongyang.

Obama said he wished that Sony had spoken to him first before yanking the movie, suggesting it could set a bad precedent. "I think they made a mistake," he said.

"NOT CAVED IN"

Sony Pictures Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton insisted the company did not capitulate to hackers and said it is still looking for alternative platforms to release "The Interview." This week, a spokeswoman for Sony had said the company did not have further release plans for the $44 million film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

Despite Obama's stern warning to North Korea, his options for responding to the computer attack by the impoverished state appeared limited. The president declined to be specific about any actions under consideration.

North Korea has been subject to U.S. sanctions for more than 50 years, but they have had little effect on its human rights policies or its development of nuclear weapons. It has become expert in hiding its often criminal money-raising activities, largely avoiding traditional banks.

The FBI said technical analysis of malicious software used in the Sony attack found links to malware that "North Korean actors" had developed and found a "significant overlap" with "other malicious cyber activity" previously tied to Pyongyang.

But it otherwise gave scant details on how it concluded that North Korea was behind the attack.

U.S. experts say Obama's options could include cyber retaliation, financial sanctions, criminal indictments against individuals implicated in the attack or even a boost in U.S. military support to South Korea, still technically at war with the North.

But the effect of any response would be limited given North Korea's isolation and the fact that it is already heavily sanctioned for its nuclear program.

There is also the risk that an overly harsh U.S. response could provoke Pyongyang to escalate any cyber warfare.

Non-conventional capabilities such as cyber warfare and nuclear technology are the weapons of choice for the impoverished North, defectors said in Seoul.

They said the Sony attack may have been a practice run for North Korea's "cyberarmy" as part of its long-term goal of being able to cripple its rivals' telecommunications and energy grids.

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Roberta Rampton, Susan Heavey, David Chance, Arshad Mohammed and David Brunnstrom in Washington, Ju-min Park in Seoul; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Crispian Balmer)


FROM BBC, UK

What is FBI evidence for North Korea hack attack? By Dave Lee Technology reporter, BBC News


Poster for the film The Interview outside of Regal Theatre in New York, 18 Dec

The FBI's evidence has not been fully laid out

The FBI's analysis has concluded North Korea is to blame for the attack on Sony Pictures - but how can it be sure?

As well Pyongyang having a motive for taking serious issue with The Interview, there's a couple of pieces of key evidence the US is now using to pin the blame.

However, they're not without flaws.

As security researcher Brian Honan put it to me earlier: "I still don't see anything that in a court would convict North Korea beyond reasonable doubt."

So let's take a look.

First, the FBI says its analysis spotted distinct similarities between the type of malware used in the Sony Pictures hack and code used in an attack on South Korea last year.

Suspicious, yes, but well short of being a smoking gun. When any malware is discovered, it is shared around many experts for analysis - any attacker could simply reversion the code for their own use, like a cover version of a song.

This has happened in the past - most notably with Stuxnet, a cyber-attack malware believed to have been developed by the US, which was later repurposed by (it is believed) the Russians.

The Chongryon

So we turn to another, better clue: IP addresses - known to be part of "North Korean infrastructure" - formed part of the malware too.

Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California
Sony may argue that no amount of security would have prevented what happened
This suggests the attack may have been controlled by people who have acted for North Korea in the past.

But what the FBI is very careful not to say is whether it thinks the attack was controlled from within North Korea itself - although in a press conference President Barack Obama did say there was no indication of another nation state being part of the hacking.

This is an important detail to pick apart.

Experts think it's unlikely, if indeed it was North Korea, that the country could have acted alone. Unnamed US officials quoted by Reuters said the US was considering that people operating out of China, with its considerable cyber-attack capability, may have been involved.

Security researcher and former journalist Brian Krebs has quoted his own sources as saying Japan may also be in the picture. A piece of research by computer maker HP released this year noted the presence of North Koreans operating in Japan.

"Known as the Chongryon, [they] are critical to North Korea's cyber and intelligence programs, and help generate hard currency for the regime," Mr Krebs wrote in a blog post.

'Off the hook'

Moving on into next year, the attack being attributed to a nation state rather than an independent hacking group is the one glimmer of good news for Sony.

There had been serious and mounting rumblings from both former employees and security analysts saying Sony did not take corporate security seriously enough - but words like "unprecedented" will bolster Sony's defence that no amount of security would have prevented what happened.

President Obama: "We will respond in a place and time and manner that we choose"
"We have to wait and see what evidence they present later on but often nation states are the easier to blame," said Marc Rogers, a security researcher for Cloudflare, who is sceptical about the extent of North Korea's involvement.

"If it is a nation state people shrug their shoulders and say that they couldn't have stopped it. It lets a lot of people off the hook."

When the lawsuits come - and at least one has already been filed - Sony's defence will almost certainly be that it did everything it reasonably could.

Mr Rogers is one of several security experts to questions the use of The Interview as the obvious motive for the hack. It was not until the media made the link, Mr Rogers notes, that the hackers started mentioning the film.

Up until that point, it was all about taking on the company, with language that hinted more at a grudge than a political statement.

"When you look at the malware it includes bits and pieces from Sony's internal network and the whole thing feels more like someone who had an issue with Sony," Mr Rogers said.

"They were dumping some of the most valuable information right at the start almost as if they wanted to hurt Sony."

The response

Truth be told, it's extremely difficult to know for sure who is behind any cyber attack. Equally, it's hard to prove who isn't. As well as the evidence cited here, the FBI said "undisclosed intelligence" was the clincher in pinning it to North Korea. We may never know what that information was.

Some suggest that billing North Korea as a cyber villain is a convenient foe for the US. Respected technology magazine Wired went as far drawing a comparison between North Korea's cyber "capability", and Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction".

As we head into 2015, at least one senior US politician is calling for North Korea to be re-designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

And with the government declaring it a matter of national security, the next thing for the US is to consider its response.

President Obama said: "We will respond proportionally, and we will respond in a place and time and manner that we choose."


THE SONY HACK STORY FROM THE DAILY NIRROR, UK DECEMBER 1, 2014

Did North Korea order Sony Pictures hack over Kim Jong-un assassination movie The Interview? Dec 01, 2014 18:45 By Olivia Solon


The Interview is a comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, played by Randall Park. The Interview is a comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, played by Randall Park

Sony Pictures Entertainment is reportedly investigating the possibility that North Korea was behind the recent hack of its systems

At least five films distributed by Sony Pictures have been leaked online following a reported cyber attack on the company in November.

The titles that have surfaced online include a remake of Annie, which is due for release on 19 December, as well as Fury, Mr Turner, Still Alice and Two Write Love On Her Arms.

One movie that hasn't appeared online is Sony’s forthcoming film The Interview, a comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

In the film, Seth Rogan and James Franco play reporters who have been given access to the North Korean leader but get recruited by the CIA to kill him.

When the film was first announced, North Korea complained to the United Nations, describing it as “the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as a war action”.

Some are speculating that the North Korea may have targeted Sony because of this film. Recode is quoting unnamed sources saying that this is a possibility and Sony is investigating the matter.


Movie distributors get hit hard when films leak early online - particularly before they hit cinemas, such as Annie.

A mysterious group called #GOP (Guardians of Peace) has taken credit for the hack, posting a warning on Sony employees’ computers saying, “If you don’t obey us, we'll release the data shown below to the world” with a list of five data links.

North Korea has a team of at least 3,000 hackers who have been hired to build support for Kim’s regime and to destabilise its enemies. It’s possible that Sony Pictures may have counted as an ‘enemy’ in this case.

If this was the case, North Korea would be making true on a threat that the county’s UN Envoy Ja Song-Nam made back in June, saying there would be a “merciless response” if the film was not cancelled.

Sony is continuing to promote the film regardless.


FROM THE DAILY MIRROR, UK DECEMBER 4, 2014

Sony hack: Salaries of Hollywood’s biggest players revealed as North Korea denies involvement Dec 04, 2014 19:54 By Fay Strang


The latest reports –revealed on file-sharing site Pastebin – show how much Seth Rogen and James Franco made for upcoming comedy film The Interview.

Reports have suggested that North Korea may have been involved after taking offence to The Interview.

The salaries of a number of Hollywood actors have been leaked after movie giant Sony was hacked last week.

The latest reports –revealed on file-sharing site Pastebin – show how much Seth Rogen and James Franco made for upcoming film The Interview.

According to Insidemovies Seth took home more than $8.4 million for the movie which he co-wrote, co-directed and starred in.

James is believed to have made $6.5 million for his part in the movie which reportedly cost $44 million to make.

The funniest part though and perhaps most surprising is that $5000 of that budget went to pay Kevin Federline for a cameo.

Yes Kevin Federline, the one-time dancer who was once married to Britney Spears.

It’s thought more stolen data will soon be released.

Seth has reportedly made a fair bit of money
So far executive pay, social security numbers and scripts for upcoming shows have all been leaked.

On Thursday a North Korean diplomat denied the country had been involved in the security breach, according to the BBC.

Sony has yet to comment on the source of the attack, however there have been suggestions elsewhere regarding North Korea's involvement.

It’s believed for the country’s motivation could all be down to the The Interview.

The movie, which is out this month, follows two reporters who manage to land an interview with dictator Kim Jong-un.

But their plans change when the CIA enlist them to assassinate Kim.

North Korea previously complained to the United Nations, describing the film as “the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as a war action”.

A spokesperson for Sony has been contacted for comment.


FROM NIKKEI --ASIAN REVIEW

THE REAL KIM JONG UN: North Korea's Kim rules through continued purges KIYOYUKI UCHIYAMA, Nikkei staff writer


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remains one of the most enigmatic public figures in the world. © Yonhap=Kyodo

SEOUL --  North Korea's Kim Jong Un continues to rule with an iron fist over a seemingly stable regime a year after executing his then second-in-command, but the young leader's unpredictable nature has neighboring countries sweating.

Kim Jong Un became the de facto head of the hermit nation in December 2011, after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. He executed his uncle and adviser, Jang Song Thaek, two years later for treason. Most believe Jang was actually eliminated because he had accumulated too much power.

At around 31 years old, Kim is extremely vigilant about threats to his power. He still keeps a close eye on those connected to Jang, according to Hyun Seong-il, a senior researcher at South Korea's Institute for National Security Strategy.

The North Korean leader has also frequently switched his second-in-command since Jang, first appointing Choe Ryong Hae, then Hwang Pyong So, then Choe again to the position.

Choe is currently a party secretary. Hwang was also a government official before being put in charge of the military's political bureau, demonstrating Kim's desire to establish a firm political influence over the military hierarchy. Kim placed his sister, Kim Yo Jong, high up in the party as well.

Kim Jong Un also apparently sentenced about 20 party leaders to the firing squad in September for actions against the party's interests and drug charges. In October, he executed regional officials for embezzlement and for watching South Korean dramas.

But many think Kim is unlikely to lose support despite his reign of terror, since North Korea's feeble economy may be starting to look up.

The country logged slight but positive economic growth from 2011 to 2013, at about 0.8% to 1.3% in real terms each year. The economy is expected to further expand this year. Inflation has also slowed, with rice prices in Pyongyang and two other locations staying mostly flat over the last two years, according to the South Korean news agency Daily NK.

And while relations with China have hit an all-time low due to a 2013 nuclear test and other factors, trade between the neighbors has not slowed much. Workers dispatched to places such as China and Russia are a source of foreign currency. Reforms that allow farmers and factories to take more liberties and keep a bigger cut of the profits appear to be starting to bear fruit.

But the country's agriculture remains extremely vulnerable to weather conditions, and a chronic power shortage continues to plague industries there. North Korea is more eager to engage in negotiations with Japan and in diplomacy with Russia in an attempt to get the foreign funds it so desperately needs to boost its economy.

Next year marks the 70th anniversary of North Korea's escape out from under Japanese colonial rule, and the end of the mourning period for former leader Kim Jong Il. A diplomatic coup would be a perfect way to celebrate such a momentous year.

Kim Jong Un himself may be North Korea's biggest reason for concern, according to experts on the country. The rogue state is known for sending mixed messages in order to fox others into a compromise, but Kim seems to take the trick a little too far. He has threatened to scrap the armistice that halted the Korean War, then unexpectedly had high officials, including Hwang, dispatched to the Incheon Asian Games in a show of friendship.

If Kim hits snags in his diplomatic ventures, he could push for the country's fourth nuclear test or the launch of another long-range missile. The South Korean military is on edge, especially with North Korea planning one of its largest military exercises on record this winter.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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