Hacking into computer systems is nothing new, and government and businesses alike have always been aware that they must be one step ahead of computer criminals. But the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment was more than that. It was a shot across the bow in what appears to be a potentially rampant future form of warfare. As a result, every cyber attack on government or business systems must now be carefully examined to see whether it is either criminal or an act of war.
In the face of evidence from the FBI that North Korea was responsible for the Sony attack, senior Republican senators disagree with the administration that it was only a form of “cybervandalism.” Sen. McCain stated this attack “is a new form of warfare, and we have to counter that form of warfare with a better form of warfare.” Sen. Lindsey Graham called “the cyberhacking ‘an act of terrorism’ and suggested re-imposing sanctions on North Korea and adding the country to the terrorism list.” In 2001, President George W. Bush called North Korea part of the “Axis of Evil,” along with Iran and Iraq.
The FBI concluded the attack on Sony was evidenced by IP addresses directly linked to North Korea. This attack was similar to those that occurred last year against South Korean banks and media outlets. The FBI stated:
We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there. . . . Further, North Korea’s attack on SPE reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States. Though the FBI has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyber intrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart.
North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.
There will most likely be more cooperation between business and government in sharing information and technology. Only together can this new threat to our national security and economy be defeated.