US confident NK responsible for Sony hack despite reports suggesting otherwise

December 30, 2014
Cars enter Sony Pictures Entertainment headquarters in Culver City, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The FBI has confirmed it is investigating a recent hacking attack at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which caused major internal computer problems at the film studio last week. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Cars enter Sony Pictures Entertainment headquarters in Culver City, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. The FBI has confirmed it is investigating a recent hacking attack at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which caused major internal computer problems at the film studio last week. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (Yonhap) — The United States stands by an FBI finding that North Korea was responsible for the hacking attack on Sony Pictures despite reports suggesting somebody else could have done it, a State Department official said Monday.

“We are aware that there have been some reports of that kind. However, as the FBI has made clear — and the United States government stands behind the FBI analysis — we are confident that North Korea is responsible for this destructive attack and we stand by that conclusion,” Jeff Rathke, a State Department spokesman, said at a regular press briefing.

North Korea has rejected U.S. accusations that it was behind the hack on Sony, though Pyongyang praised the attack as a “righteous deed.” The North has condemned a Sony Pictures comedy, “The Interview,” as the sponsoring of terrorism for involving a plot to kill leader Kim Jong-un.

The Associated Press reported last week that the Sony hack has become “Internet’s new mystery,” suggesting the possibility that disgruntled Sony insiders or somebody else launched the attack and made it look like it was done by North Korea.

It also cited cyber-security experts saying it is very hard to pinpoint the culprit in a hacking attack.

While blaming Pyongyang for the hack, the FBI said that the data deletion malware revealed links to other malware that the North previously developed. It also said the tools used in the attack have similarities to a cyber-attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets.

U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to “respond proportionally” to the North.

Asked if the U.S. has taken any action yet, Rathke said the U.S. is “evaluating our potential response.”

He added, “We’re not going to go into operational details of what the various options are. And the president also I think was pretty clear in saying that any response by the United States will be proportional and we will do so at a time we choose, but I don’t have anything further to add.”

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