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January 19, 2015

NSA Had Access to North Korea Networks Before Sony Attack

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The U.S. National Security Agency has long had access to North Korea’s networks — and it is that access that enabled U.S. authorities to so quickly determine the country’s involvement in the November hack of Sony Pictures.

The NSA tapped into North Korea’s computer network in 2010, planting malware with the ability to track the internal workings of many networks used by the country’s hackers, the New York Times is reporting.

It is that malware that not only enabled the FBI to quickly point the finger at the North Korean government but gave President Barack Obama the confidence to level accusations against the government of Kim Jong-Un.

The Times report, which cited former U.S. and foreign officials, computer experts and a newly disclosed NSA document, indicated the government did not wish to disclose its method of gathering intelligence in this case for fear of losing its in to North Korea’s networks.

According to the report, the proof of North Korea’s involvement in the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures and threats of violence against theaters showing The Interview was so absolute, Obama “had no doubt” which, in turn, led to the imposition of new sanctions against the country.

James A. Lewis, a cyber-warfare expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said that, normally, discovering the source of the attacks would be “incredibly difficult and slow.”

“The speed and certainty with which the United States made its determinations about North Korea told you that something was different here — that they had some kind of inside view,” he told The Times.

The president, on Jan. 5, signed an executive order authorizing the Treasury Department to prevent North Korean access to the U.S. financial system and prohibit Americans from doing business with the country.

The executive order came two weeks after the president promised the United States would “respond proportionately,” to the state-sponsored hack and then threats that any theater that played The Interview — Sony’s dark comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un — would be attacked.

The drama first began Nov. 24 when a cyber-attack from the state-sponsored Guardians of Peace shut down Sony Pictures’ systems across the globe.


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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