CNN is reporting that the U.S. government will officially announce North Korea as the culprit of the Sony cyberattacks on Thursday.
“U.S. investigators have determined the attacks against Sony was the work of hackers working on behalf of the North Korean government,” CNN Justice Correspondent Evan Perez said to Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Wednesday evening. Perez continued the U.S. government will make a formal announcement tomorrow.
“The question now is, what do we do about it?” he continued, adding the U.S. government knows there’s no way this attack could have been carried out unless it was ordered by the leadership in North Korea.
Perez said U.S. officials have been going back and forth on the language of the announcement—whether to actually say North Korea by name.
The FBI and other intelligence agencies have been working on this for a long time, Perez says, and that the hacking is of major concern to the U.S. because these hackers could be a “serious national security issue.” The hackers could be part of a North Korean military unit called “Euro 121” who specialize in these types of cyberattacks, he said.
On Tuesday, the hackers escalated their threat to violence promising a 9/11-like attack on theaters that show the film. And while Sony losses could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, the implications could reach far beyond corporate financial results. On Wednesday, Sony cancelled the release of the film.
If the hackers make good on those threats, and investigations like those being conducted by the FBI or cybersecurity firm Mandiant implicate North Korea, what would a United States response look like? Is this a case of state-sanctioned corporate terrorism?
“We’ve had state-sponsored industrial espionage for years,” said Steve Bucci of conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, who aid that the U.S. Department of Defense may consider severe digital crimes to be acts of war.
“Cyberterrorism is a more efficient [terrorism], because it’s so broad. The thing is, in this country we don’t have to fight cyber with cyber, we can do anything we want,” said Bucci.