Despite a lack of evidence, Obama has issued an executive order placing new sanctions on the North Korean regime.
Specifically, the sanctions were put on ten individuals and three state agencies.
The executive order authorizes the Treasury Department to prevent the individuals and agencies from using the U.S. financial system and outlaws U.S. citizens from doing business with them.
“We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a U.S. company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “Today’s actions are the first aspect of our response.”
Increasingly, the consensus is that North Korea was not behind the attack on Sony Pictures. It has yet to demonstrate advance hacking skills, lacks a high-tech business sector and a local hacker community.
Past hacker attacks launched by the government have been crude.
“The cyber attacks carried out against Sony required a much higher level of skill than North Korea could manage as recently as last spring,” writes Scott Borg, director and chief economist of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit. “What’s technically impressive about the attacks is not the fact that Sony was penetrated. It’s the enormous amount of activity that the attackers managed to carry out inside Sony’s computers and networks without detection. They were poking into everything, identifying and mapping everything on the corporate network, opening huge numbers of documents, running many applications, pushing the CPU’s to very high utilization levels, and moving many terabytes of data around for months without being detected.”
The fact the FBI insists North Korea was behind the attack and the issuance today of an executive order by the White House reveals a political agenda unrelated to finding the actual culprits.
The attack renewed calls for cyber security legislation in Congress.
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain said on December 18 that Congress must “finally pass long-overdue comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, shared McCain’s urgency.
“We must pass an information-sharing bill as quickly as possible,” she said.