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article imageOp-Ed: Revenge, PR and the brilliant troll behind the Sony hack

By Ben Morris     Dec 24, 2014 in Internet
Washington D.c. - President Obama and the F.B.I claim North Korea is at the center of the Sony hack that shook Hollywood, but as many look inside the claims and put the pieces together, the story in Washington is being exposed as false.
It’s a story right out of Hollywood. Two comedic film stars star in a movie that causes political trauma between two unfriendly countries with nuclear capabilities. The film is pulled from release. Hollywood stars and political figures condemn the self censorship until the film company caves again and announces the film will be released on the intended date.
As Seth Rogan and James Franco sigh in relief, the story about The Interview raises the ears of conspiracy theorists who start to ask questions as they put the puzzle pieces together.
After Sony’s emails were hacked and a terrorist threat was made, The Interview co-director Evan Goldberg raised the question of who actually hacked into Sony’s network. In a story by Adrian Hack on Straight.com, Goldberg is quoted as saying, “For two seconds it was the North Koreans, and then the younger guys in our office who know way more about computers were, like, ‘No way. You’d have to know Sony’s network, it has to be somebody on the inside.’"
The Hollywood Reporter suggested a possible inside job in a story that included an interview with Hemanshu Nigam a security expert who doubts the official Washington story by declaring, "It would also take months for a hacker to figure out the topography of the Sony networks to know where critical assets are stored and to have access to the decryption keys needed to open up the screeners that have been leaked." He added the terrorist threats "-is more likely a ruse to shift blame, knowing the distaste the North Korean regime has for Sony Pictures."
This belief holds credence as mass layoffs by Sony cost the jobs of hundreds of employees, whose jobs were absorbed by the Sony into other departments within the company. The hack revealed the million dollar salaries of executives who were saved from the cost cutting, as well as spreadsheets explaining the cost of the terminations, as well as the disparity of salaries based on the gender of executives and other employees. The hacking of those documents shows a vindictive nature that screams revenge.
In 2011, hackers attacked Sony after the company sued an American hacker who wanted to reverse engineer the PS3 to allow for gamers to play games not authorized by Sony. Two weeks before that attack, Sony laid off two security experts. That attack exposed vulnerabilities within Sony’s network which allowed for hackers to break into their system.
The questions about an inside job and the vulnerability of the Sony network add to the questions about the hack.
In an article on The Daily Beast, Marc Rogers the former director of security operations for DEF CON, disputes the culpability of North Korea on the basis that the FBI’s case is completely circumstantial. According to the FBI IP addresses from North Korea, and the existence of malware used in the attack that was previously used by a previous hack is evidence that North Korea is responsible. According to Rogers, “just because two pieces of malware share a common ancestry, it obviously does not mean they share a common operator.”
Rogers concluded his piece by noting the hackers wanted to embarrass the company, and by pointing the blame on North Korea, legislation like CISPA could garner more support using the Sony hack as a fear mongering reason to pass legislation that will allow private companies and the government to share the private information of Internet users.
As the FBI makes their case on flimsy evidence many have wondered what geopolitical issues could develop between the two nations. Many in Washington have called for a war against North Korea in the past due to their nuclear program, and the hack could be seen as yet another reason for an invasion, but when you look at the layoffs, the embarrassing emails, and Sony’s pay structure, you can’t help but doubt North Korea is involved.
Before the hack, The Interview was just the next Seth Rogan film for his fans to see. Since then the film has been discussed and debated in mainstream news outlets that talk very little about new films. Actors, politicians, and political commentators have given this film the type of press producers could only dream of. Now that Sony will be releasing the film, patriotic Americans who want to stick it to North Korea will see the film, others who had very little interest in the movie will now see it to see what the fuss is about.
The Sony hack smells like a mixture of vengeance and a brilliant marketing tool to compel film lovers to make Christmas dinner earlier to stick it to terrorists. It also acts as a massive troll to the American government who insist on punishing North Korea by flexing their muscle to win some political points and bully a dictator with a strong bark, but a weak bite.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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