The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday officially accused North Korea of sponsoring the massive cyberattack against Sony pictures late last month, which escalated to a terrorist threat against movie theaters this week and the cancellation of Sony Pictures’ “The Interview.”
FBI officials confirmed weeks-long suspicions that Pyongyang was behind the hack in a statement Friday, saying the bureau had accumulated enough information to conclude the government led by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was responsible for the attack.
The agency said it was “deeply concerned” about the “destructive nature” of the attack on Sony and the resulting leak of personal information belonging to employees. (RELATED: US Links North Korea To Sony Hack, ‘The Interview’ Threat)
The bureau, which has been working directly with Sony since the hack occurred, discovered malware used to infect company computers had strong similarities — including specific lines of code — to malware known to have been used by North Korea in past attacks.
Multiple Internet-protocol (IP) addresses seen in previous North Korean state-sponsored attacks were also uncovered, and investigators since early December have pointed to lines of malware used against South Korean banks and broadcast stations in 2013 as further evidence.
The FBI statement did not mention any links to China assisting in the attack, despite comments asserting otherwise for an anonymous U.S. official speaking with Reuters in an early Friday report.
According to CNN, the hackers sent a message to Sony executives Thursday night thanking them for canceling the Dec. 25 release of “The Interview,” which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco in a comedic attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-un. (RELATED: Sony Hackers Threaten 9/11-Style Terrorist Attacks Against ‘The Interview’ Moviegoers)
The self-described “Guardians of Peace” demanded Sony erase all trace of the film, including pulling trailers and foregoing digital or hard copy releases, or face more leaks of company property and information obtained in the late-November hack.
Anonymous senior administration officials told The New York Times earlier this week that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the hack, which has so far resulted in the dump of unreleased movies, private employee information and executive emails. (RELATED: America’s Biggest Movie Theater Chains Drop ‘The Interview’ Over Sony Hackers Threat)
The Times reports the hackers launched the attack through roundabout global networks in Singapore, Thailand and Bolivia — the last of which was used in an attack against South Korea two years ago.