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Monday, December 22, 2014 5:03 AM

North Korea Threatens White House, Labels US a "Cesspool of Terrorism"; Sony Ponders YouTube Release of "The Interview"

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is an incredible blowhard, but no credible threat to anyone outside North Korea. He just wants attention.

And he's going to get it following his Threat to target White House after Obama Claims North Korea Behind Sony Hacking.

President Barack Obama is “recklessly” spreading rumours of a Pyongyang-orchestrated cyberattack of Sony Pictures, North Korea says, as it warns of strikes against the White House, Pentagon and “the whole US mainland, that cesspool of terrorism”.

A long statement from the powerful National Defense Commission late Sunday underscores Pyongyang’s sensitivity at a movie whose plot focuses on the assassination of its leader Kim Jong-un.

"Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the ‘symmetric counteraction’ declared by Obama," said the commission’s policy department in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
US May Put North Korea Back on State Terror List

I never thought that I would agree with Kim Jong on anything significant, but his labeling the US a cesspool of terrorism seems an accurate description of US drone policy.

In response to his idle threats, US May Put North Korea Back on State Terror List.
The United States may classify North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism after its “cybervandalism” of Sony Pictures, President Barack Obama has said.

The president said the hack on the Hollywood studio was not an act of war but was “very costly”, and could land Pyongyang back on the administration’s terror list, a designation lifted by the Bush administration in 2008 during nuclear talks.

“We’re going to review those [issues] through a process that’s already in place,” he told CNN in an interview broadcast on Sunday. “I’ll wait to review what the findings are.”
'The Interview'

In case you are not in tune with what's happening, Sony was about to release a film called "The Interview".

The film stars Rogen and James Franco as journalists instructed to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (played by Randall Park) after booking an interview with him.

Sony Hacked

Prior to release of the film, Sony was Hacked and threatened.
A message from the Guardians of Peace, the hacker group that breached the computer systems of Sony Pictures and warned against releasing the film, said “we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.”

The hackers promised that if Sony scrubbed all traces of the comedy from the Internet — an impossible task — they would cease a campaign that has lasted almost a month and has threatened employees and their families, embarrassed executives and potentially unleashed 100 terabytes of private company data into the world.

A few hours later, President Obama added his voice to the chorus of critics, including irate Hollywood actors, who say Sony and the nation’s theater operators should not have canceled the release. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” he said.
Obama Says Sony Made Mistake by Pulling 'The Interview'

In a press conference, President Obama claimed Sony Made Mistake by Pulling 'The Interview'.

I agree with the president that pulling the movie is giving into the demands of fools. But it was not really Sony that pulled the plug.
Actor George Clooney, in an interview yesterday with Deadline, noted that Sony didn’t want to cancel its film, but had no choice once movie theaters started canceling screenings.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Sony CEO Michael Lynton denied that his company had “caved” under the threat. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter this morning, he said, “The movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short time. We were very surprised by it…. At that point in time we had no alternative to not proceed with a theatrical release on the 25th of December….We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered.”
Who Hacked Sony?

Wired says Evidence That North Korea Hacked Sony Is Flimsy.
Attribution Is Difficult If Not Impossible

First off, we have to say that attribution in breaches is difficult. Assertions about who is behind any attack should be treated with a hefty dose of skepticism. Skilled hackers use proxy machines and false IP addresses to cover their tracks or plant false clues inside their malware to throw investigators off their trail. When hackers are identified and apprehended, it’s generally because they’ve made mistakes or because a cohort got arrested and turned informant.

Nation-state attacks often can be distinguished by their level of sophistication and modus operandi, but attribution is no less difficult. It’s easy for attackers to plant false flags that point to North Korea or another nation as the culprit. And even when an attack appears to be nation-state, it can be difficult to know if the hackers are mercenaries acting alone or with state sponsorship—some hackers work freelance and get paid by a state only when they get access to an important system or useful intelligence; others work directly for a state or military. Then there are hacktivists, who can be confused with state actors because their geopolitical interests and motives jibe with a state’s interests.
Alternate Theories

New York Magazine proposes 4 Alternate Theories while asking What If North Korea Didn’t Hack Sony?

I read the article and none of the alternate theories had any strong evidence, but neither does the North Korea theory.

China Condemns Cyber Attack

This morning, Reuters reports China condemns cyberattacks, but says no proof North Korea hacked Sony.
China said on Monday it opposed all forms of cyberattacks but there was no proof that North Korea was responsible for the hacking of Sony Pictures, as the United States has said.

North Korea has denied it was to blame and has vowed to hit back against any U.S. retaliation, threatening the White House and the Pentagon. The hackers said they were incensed by a Sony comedy about a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which the studio has pulled.
YouTube Release

Sony's CEO says ‘we would still like the public to see this movie’.

That seems pretty obvious to me. What other reason is there to make a movie?

And given that theaters pulled the plug on the release, Sony considers YouTube a possible distributor for The Interview.

My personal viewpoint is the script sounds incredibly boring. I would not watch this thing if it was free. Then again, I do not like movies in general, so I am not the best of judges.

I am curious though, how many will want to see this thing simply because of the controversy. Regardless, I won't be in that group.

I am also curious about one more thing: How would president Obama and Congress have reacted if the script was an assassination plot on Obama instead of  Kim Jong-un?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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