Friday, December 19, 2014

Does Not Compute

Sony Pictures has canceled the release of a comedy on the fictional assassination of North Korea's leader, in what appears to be an unprecedented victory for Pyongyang and its abilities to wage cyber-warfare.
Sony cancels North Korea movie in apparent win for Pyongyang hackers
Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand how veiled references to the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York speak to the ability of North Korea to wage cyber-warfare. While it's true that the Guardians of Peace were likely taken more seriously than they otherwise would have been because of their successful breach of Sony's computer security, they didn't need to have hacked into anything to make such a threat - or, despite the serious difficulties in doing so, carry it out. After all, al-Queda didn't need to breach any corporate computer systems to carry out the attack that the Guardians of Peace referenced in their threat.
Today, Guardians of Peace threatened theaters that planned to screen The Interview, saying: “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.”
Theater Cancels New York Premiere of 'The Interview'

[...]Sony Pictures pulled its planned release of “The Interview,” a satire targeting that country’s dictator, after the hackers made some ridiculous threats about terrorist violence.
Sony Made It Easy, but Any of Us Could Get Hacked
The former Sony employees who filed suit against their one-time employer allege that Sony effectively blew off the threat of hacking against their systems, even though other attacks have occurred in the past. If that's the case, it hardly seems "unprecedented" for someone to pry open a door that was proven to be ineffectively locked in the first place.

In the end, making the North Koreans out to be the world's most accomplished cyber-warriors draws more eyeballs, and seems much more serious, than a simple story about how large theater chains, and then Sony itself, folded in the face of dubious threats form an organization that only its members had heard of before last month. Taken at face value, this is little more than a story of corporate caution - regardless of how far-fetched the threats may have seemed, or how many people call the companies out for cowardice, had the show opened, and so much as a single person were injured or killed, there would have been a predictable rush of lawsuits from people claiming that they had been placed in unnecessary danger by companies hungry for profits.

That's not the same as the penetration of Sony security making it difficult or impossible to release the movie. It's a distinction worth making.

No comments: