"...we are in the realm of beyond stupid with this."
December 18, 2014 11:05 AM   Subscribe

"Now we get to the part that moves from jokes and silliness to serious, which is: This is not just now a case study in how not to react to cyber threats and a case study in how to not defend your networks, it's now also a case study in how not to respond to terrorism threats." Cybersecurity expert Peter W. Singer discusses the Sony's reaction to the "Guardians of Peace" hack.

Also providing some context; Bruce Schneier -

"It's really a phenomenally awesome hack—they completely owned this company, ... But, I think this is just a regular hack. All the talk, it's hyperbole and a joke. They're [threatening violence] because it's fun for them—why the hell not? They're doing it because they actually hit Sony, because they're acting like they're 12, they're doing it for the lulz, no one knows why."
posted by quin (187 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here, we need to distinguish between threat and capability—the ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously. I can't believe I'm saying this. I can't believe I have to say this.

Yeah, this was basically my first thought on hearing that they were canceling "The Interview". How would anyone be able to target all the individual theaters that would be showing this movie? And giving in to their demands seems to just be rewarding them for that behavior.
posted by Librarypt at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2014 [25 favorites]


Librarypt: "How would anyone be able to target all the individual theaters that would be showing this movie?"

I'm guessing Sony's fear was that someone would target one or a few theaters, and people would die, and then no one would go see the movie anyway, leaving Sony and the theaters to eat marketing and releasing costs. Or rather, that was the theater chains' fear. I still agree this is highly unlikely, though, but it's not 18k theaters or nothing.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:13 AM on December 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


Schneier's attitude is exactly the reason we have these problems. I'm sorry, but if you do $100M of damage and threaten violence, you are a terrorist, even if you were acting on a lark.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:13 AM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I do wonder how much of this is because of Hollywood paranoia and how much is because of dicey Japanese relations with North Korea.

Also it probably doesn't hurt that -- as the leaked e-mails show -- Sony's execs would have gladly taken any chance to go back in time and un-greenlight The Interview given how bad it apparently turned out.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]




But, a lot of terrorism analysts have talked about how they shut down the entire city of Boston, which was the wrong message. It sends the message to terrorists elsewhere that if two not-so-well trained guys with a jury-rigged rice cooker bomb can shut down an entire American city, what can we do if we're good at this?

This will probably go down as the stupidest and most cowardly response to a threat in corporate history. Five year olds afraid of monsters under their beds would have reacted better than these doofuses...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:16 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, media companies bowing down to threats of terrorism is nothing new. Look at the shameful treatment of Salman Rushdie and that author who wrote the book about the bride of muhammad among others. What is new is that the enemy in this case is one we are not really scared of because we caricature them as not actually able to hurt us - hopefully we will see a strong response in this case because of that, and we can root out some of the cowardice that dominates all of this kind of censorship.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 11:17 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


All the talk, it's hyperbole and a joke.

I think people like this guy are rushing way too fast to assume this. If you had told people on Sept. 10, 2001 that the entire country is about to be turned on its ear by a couple of guys with box cutters, they would have laughed at that too. Truth is we don't know what these hackers are capable of, but by at least one account, they're probably way more advanced than we think they are.
posted by jbickers at 11:20 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Well I tell you it's a real shame but if turning Seth Rogen over to North Korea is the price we have to pay to bring some stability to this situation and prevent any violence from occurring I think we need to consider the greater good and weigh the needs of the many against the needs of the

Wait what do you mean that's not on the table?
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:20 AM on December 18, 2014 [52 favorites]


Someone killed 12 people and shot another 70 people at the opening night of Batman: The Dark Knight [Rises]. They kept that movie in the theaters.

Yeah, but if anything violent happened at any showing of The Interview, it would be seen as the Aurora-that-could-have-been-prevented. It's a tough situation to be in.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:24 AM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "how much is because of dicey Japanese relations with North Korea. "

This has been my argument all along - to those who are poo-pooing the stance. Now - I don't know if it's directly affective, but there certainly is a lot of hostility in the history between the two countries.

I honestly saw, here... This is a verbatim copy of a comment on a news story, and I'm 99% positive the poster wasn't a troll:
"I think that they took our CHOICE away to go and see this movie. I'm pretty sure that the whole point of the USA was because we had our CHOICES taken away and our forefathers wanted to make CHOICES for themselves. I mean, if not for the ability of AMERICANS making CHOICES we'd turn into...well....North Korea. Remember when other countries feared us?"
So my reply back :
Yeah - how dare Sony take away my CHOICE to see a movie that they CHOSE to pull because North Korea CHOSE to hack Sony's computers and release emails and then CHOSE to threaten theater owners/companies who then CHOSE to not show the movie in their AMERICAN theaters because they figure the danger to AMERICAN lives is more risky than some AMERICAN choosing to see a dumb movie. And let's not ignore that Japan CHOSE to occupy Korea in the early 20th century, and their soldiers CHOSE to enslave women in brothels, and CHOSE to visit Yasukuni Shrine for their war dead in the 21st century. That Sony is a JAPANESE company, of which Sony Pictures is an AMERICAN subsidiary, and there are tensions in the Asia-Pacific Region, including not just North Korea, but South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan and the Philippines with historical distrust between these countries and a delicate balance has to be made so that nobody goes too far to infuriate any of the others while still playing games with each other, and then you have something like this, where Sony might be getting some pressure from certain quarters to back off just to maintain a minor sense of peace.

BUT whatever, cuz MURICA!
I'm sure it's a combination of factors - from the individual chains concerns (who knows, maybe even insurance companies telling them they wouldn't be covered for liability?) to N. Korean relationships with the world in general, to Japan/N. Korean relationships in general.

Whatever, I'ma bittorrent it anyways.

Or, as my friend jokingly said, maybe it's all a plot to get the movie put out on a pay-per-view basis and cause demand because of the "dangerous nature" of it all!
posted by symbioid at 11:28 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


I can't believe Sony hasn't turned this around and made it the biggest movie of the year by insinuating that it's every Real American's duty to go out and watch the fuck out of it, to watch it twice and then go home and talk about it and then decide to go watch it a third time. Sony, if you're listening, just slap together a quick bleeding heart ad like that and ride it into the sunset. It might mean that the last line of your epitaph isn't a total humiliation. I mean seriously, what happened here?
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2014 [18 favorites]


Well really the problem is North Korean isolationism. If they were a big movie market like China (or Nazi Germany in the 1930s) then they wouldn't have to do these high-profile hacks to keep movies that offend them from being released.
posted by ckape at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm kind of looking forward to a play-by-play analysis of all this -- the sort that usually comes out well after the incident.

My own suspicion is that the theaters expected the film wasn't going to do well, and just took the opportunity to take it off their schedules, and that's where the ball really got rolling. Money winning out over principles.

But I won't be shocked if I find out I'm totally wrong there.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Now we get to the part that moves from jokes and silliness to serious, which is: This is not just now a case study in how not to react to cyber threats and a case study in how to not defend your networks, it's now also a case study in how not to respond to terrorism threats...Here, we need to distinguish between threat and capability—the ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously. "

I don't think there was any serious concern that there would be 18,000 simultaneous 9/11-style attacks. But if there had been even one terroristic attack, can you even imagine the kind of hell Sony would have caught?
posted by clockzero at 11:37 AM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


scaryblackdeath: "My own suspicion is that the theaters expected the film wasn't going to do well, and just took the opportunity to take it off their schedules, and that's where the ball really got rolling. Money winning out over principles."

Most of the buzz I've heard from people who have actually seen it has been positive to very positive. Basically everyone says it's funny.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:37 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also: I keep seeing all of this, and I keep thinking about all the women who've received far more credible threats of personal violence as a result of all the *gate bullshit...and, well, those women look that much braver by comparison.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2014 [35 favorites]


If Sony HQ in Tokyo actually had the ability to greenlight or can this movie, I find it totally unbelievable that it went ahead in the first place. It's just so unbelievable that any Japanese exec would be comfortable with the plotline. And the reported graphic violence at the end of the movie seems just so over the top. Like, what were people thinking here?

The Daily Beast was reporting that the US government was somehow involved, which seems like utter bullshit. Apparently Sony screened the picture to someone in the State Department, and this is being spun as some sort of endorsement by the US government in order to use the film as a propaganda tool.

And Wired is reporting that the link between the NORK government and the cyber attacks is tenuous at best.

Anyway, what a mess. They had just better make the Lego Spiderman movie.
posted by Nevin at 11:40 AM on December 18, 2014


NoxAeternum: "Schneier's attitude is exactly the reason we have these problems. I'm sorry, but if you do $100M of damage and threaten violence, you are a terrorist, even if you were acting on a lark."

You do know words like "terrorist" have a definition and a meaning, beyond "whoever we don't like today", right? One of the most basic definitions is that it has to be a violent act, not just a threat of one, or at least a threat of violence from someone who is likely to have the capabilities to carry it out. But all definitions of "terrorism" are political anyway.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:40 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


if they really wanted to make sure no one went to see The Interview, they could have just sent everyone a copy of Pineapple Express.
posted by biffa at 11:43 AM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Nevin: "If Sony HQ in Tokyo actually had the ability to greenlight or can this movie, I find it totally unbelievable that it went ahead in the first place. It's just so unbelievable that any Japanese exec would be comfortable with the plotline. And the reported graphic violence at the end of the movie seems just so over the top. Like, what were people thinking here?"

Sony Pictures Entertainment is an American subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony, and its chairwoman is Amy Pascal (of the leaked emails fame). I'd be very surprised if any projects are run by Sony's Japanese management at all.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:44 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, the premise for this movie is so goshdarn outrageous.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2014


Sony Pictures Entertainment is an American subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony, and its chairwoman is Amy Pascal (of the leaked emails fame). I'd be very surprised if any projects are run by Sony's Japanese management at all.

This is the stuff we need to flesh out: was it a Japanese relationship that caused the red light or was it American corporate fear?
posted by uraniumwilly at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2014


> I can't believe Sony hasn't turned this around and made it the biggest movie of the year by insinuating that it's every Real American's duty to go out and watch the fuck out of it, to watch it twice and then go home and talk about it and then decide to go watch it a third time.

I can believe it. Sony can say whatever they want, but major theater chains had already made the decision not to show the film. Sony's cancellation was a reaction to that.

Seriously, we're going to see this pattern again, now that it's been demonstrated to work. The actual companies that own movie theaters are the weak link in this distribution chain: threaten violence at their theaters and they'll decide it's not worth the risk. The fact that Sony has sunk millions of dollars in production and marketing into The Interview means nothing to the theaters; they're not obliged to screen this movie in order to help Sony recoup its investment.

I'm not even saying the theaters are acting irrationally. And obviously the threat of violence is more credible with a political farce than it would be with, say, Alvin & the Chipmunks 4, so it's not like this is an infinitely repeatable tactic. One figures the theaters have a price, though; if The Interview was tracking at $300 million domestic, I doubt they would've folded so quickly.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:49 AM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


What a loss! I'm sure this film would've been the next "Great Dictator".

But seriously, I do understand why they pulled it, as it would only take one instance of violence to bring the wrath of the US Consumer upon them. What I don't understand is how someone didn't foresee N. Korea getting a little testy over a film portraying the (attempted) murder of a head of state as a comedy.

Is that a derail? Sorry if so.
posted by allthinky at 11:50 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd be very surprised if any projects are run by Sony's Japanese management at all.

Me too, I'm just thinking that the power structure exists to allow an exec at HQ to reach out and kill something in one of the normally-independent subsidiaries if it becomes a big enough deal to catch his notice.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:51 AM on December 18, 2014


Sony Pictures Entertainment is an American subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony, and its chairwoman is Amy Pascal (of the leaked emails fame). I'd be very surprised if any projects are run by Sony's Japanese management at all.

Yeah, the leaks reveal that Sony Pictures killed the a potential team up with Marvel over the use of Spider-Man. Now that the parent company has heard about it, they aren't happy and supposedly talks are back on. Not that Marvel needs Spider-Man at this point, but whatever.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:52 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


>Sony Pictures Entertainment is an American subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony, and its chairwoman is Amy Pascal (of the leaked emails fame). I'd be very surprised if any projects are run by Sony's Japanese management at all.

Disturbed by North Korean threats at a time when his company was already struggling, Sony’s Japanese chief executive, Kazuo Hirai, broke with what Sony executives say was a 25-year tradition. He intervened in the decision making of his company’s usually autonomous Hollywood studio, Sony Pictures Entertainment.
posted by Nevin at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]




Hackers released emails from Sony this week, which revealed Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai's role in changing the ending of The Interview, which features North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un dying horrifically.
posted by Nevin at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


You do know words like "terrorist" have a definition and a meaning, beyond "whoever we don't like today", right? One of the most basic definitions is that it has to be a violent act, not just a threat of one, or at least a threat of violence from someone who is likely to have the capabilities to carry it out. But all definitions of "terrorism" are political anyway.

Care to explain how doing $100M of damage is not an act of violence?
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]




Wait what do you mean that's not on the table?



Because use of either Seth Rogen or James Franco against enemy combatants or civilians is a war crime, regardless of what Dick Cheney says.


Come on, prize bull octorok- you're better than this.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:01 PM on December 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


This isn't even a terrorist attack, it's an all out Cyber War, yall
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:04 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


No one wants to have been holding the hot potato of perceived responsibility/liability if an attack actually did take place. Let's all take a moment to imagine the shitstorm if anyone in this chain of responsibility decided to go the "America, fuck yeah, free speech!" route and air the movie, only to have a theater blown up on Christmas or something.

I think it's shitty that this is succeeding as a tactic, but I can't blame the people involved for acting in what they not unreasonably perceive to be their best interests.
posted by yasaman at 12:07 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Care to explain how doing $100M of damage is not an act of violence?

No one was actually hurt, for one.
posted by bradbane at 12:08 PM on December 18, 2014 [34 favorites]


it's going to be so werid when we find out this is another one of Shia LaBeouf's odd stunts.
posted by The Whelk at 12:12 PM on December 18, 2014 [23 favorites]


It's viral marketing for the prequel to the 2012 remake of Red Dawn.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, whatever this is about, it's not about what we're being told it's about. If the real, actual story here is anything close to the current narrative (North Korean hackers! TERRORISM!), I will be genuinely surprised.

For my money, here to be praised or mocked at a later date, Schneier is likely right, this is just a great hack by someones for some lulz, and once they got so much attention they just kept on fucking with everyone involved. The theater chains deciding not to show the film reminds me exactly of when The Satanic Verses was published. When it was released, and the fatwa on Rushdie was issued, hoo man, so much panic and fear. People were actually afraid to shop in bookstores around its release date, and every bookstore in town refused to stock the book, for fear of having bombs planted in their stores or something.

Every bookstore in town except for the one I worked for, that is.

I had the best after-school job ever at a small new/used independent shop owned by a former accountant and staffed by him, his wife, and me. Marty was a great dude, very tolerant of my adolescent weirdness and a stand-up guy. He also didn't take any shit from anybody and I vividly remember him wheeling in several more boxes than usual one Wednesday afternoon (when the new book shipments arrived).

Me: "What's all that?"

Marty: "It's all our copies of The Satanic Verses. I'm putting up a big display in the window."

Me: [aghast, mortified] "Holy shit! What about all the bomb threats that stores got and muslim terrorists killing anyone who reads that book and all the other scare-mongering, ratings-grabbing crap I've been hearing and reading in the news???"

[n.b.: I may not be recollecting the conversation exactly precisely. It was a while ago.]

Marty: "Fuck them! I am not gonna let ANYBODY tell me what I can and can't sell in MY STORE. I ordered 250 copies of this book, and we're gonna put up a GIANT DISPLAY in the window so that everybody can see I will NOT BE THREATENED!

"Plus, nobody's stocking this thing, we're gonna sell a ton of em."

And he was right. There was no violence, there weren't even any threats, and we sold a shitload of Salman Rushdie novels. My estimation of Marty went up quite a bit then, and I became a little wiser about the differences between media narratives, corporate behavior, and actual, individual human experience.

I mean, think about it: North Korean terrorists are going to attack U.S. theaters? I would think that any North Korean, once on U.S. soil, would do nothing but immediately defect and request asylum, firstly, and secondly, I can't believe I have to type any more to explain what about that notion is ridiculous. It's just absurd on the face of it. So whatever this is about, it's not about what we're being told it's about.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:17 PM on December 18, 2014 [63 favorites]


I mean, think about it: North Korean terrorists are going to attack U.S. theaters? I would think that any North Korean, once on U.S. soil, would do nothing but immediately defect and request asylum, firstly, and secondly, I can't believe I have to type any more to explain what about that notion is ridiculous. It's just absurd on the face of it. So whatever this is about, it's not about what we're being told it's about.

Ah, American exceptionalism. Always a good way to dismiss an argument.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:24 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


savetheclocktower is right. Japanese politics do nothing to explain the cravenness of theater owners.

Craven theater owners not willing to risk their employees lives for a stoner flick.

Anyway, Paramount just forced Alamo Drafthouse to cancel their Team America showing.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:25 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


There was no violence, there weren't even any threats, and we sold a shitload of Salman Rushdie novels.

Bookstores actually got firebombed over that book. Chain bookstores removed it from their shelves, but independents kept selling it ... and so did the chains, once they were shamed into it by the indies.
posted by Mothlight at 12:26 PM on December 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


> I think it's shitty that this is succeeding as a tactic, but I can't blame the people involved for acting in what they not unreasonably perceive to be their best interests.

Well, the unfortunate flip side of that is that you won't be able to blame people for trying the same thing in the future, because now it's been proven to work.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Care to explain how doing $100M of damage is not an act of violence?

No one was actually hurt, for one.


Tell that to the Sony Pictures staff currently forming a class action suit over the lost pay and other damages caused by the attack.

It's funny how we're willing to shift the definition of injury.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's funny how we're willing to shift the definition of injury.

There's nothing funny. Getting hacked is damage. It's also more abstract than the common use of "injury" or "violence." It's not hard to understand the common usages, that physical harm to one's self is "injury" or "violence," vs the idea of damage to property. It's perceived as a lesser damage -- especially data management damage.
posted by uraniumwilly at 12:32 PM on December 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


American exceptionalism

That's not what I'm actually arguing, but OK: the list of terrorist attacks by North Korea is not long. If you, dictator of DPRK, had sleeper agents in a major foreign power's territory, able to execute violent mass attacks in public spaces, would you announce and exercise that capability over a movie? Start a war because you'd been insulted? Because that's what we're being asked to believe for the current threats of violence to be credible.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:32 PM on December 18, 2014 [17 favorites]


Money doesn't equal people. If I set alight a hundred dollar bill, no one was injured. Whats the deal? There's pretty clear difference between violence and business losses.
posted by Carillon at 12:33 PM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Craven theater owners not willing to risk their employees lives for a stoner flick.

Anyway, Paramount just forced Alamo Drafthouse to cancel their Team America showing.


God DAMN IT.

Living in a free society means that sometimes people are gonna get hurt. It's the price you pay.

Not that we were looking at credible threats in the first place, but still.

Damn it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:35 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


If I set alight a hundred dollar bill, no one was injured.

Obviously facile: if it's my hundred dollar bill and I need it to buy food so I can eat, you bet I'm injured.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:35 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


No one was actually hurt, for one.

I'm sorry but Peter Singer's take is so beyond fucking stupid top-to-bottom that you can go ahead and throw away his borrowed definition of terrorism as well. Now whether you think somebody deserves to be sent to GTMO is a different story. But the attack on Sony represents an attack on liberty - the liberty to do business, and the liberty to have major infrastructures online. And as such it should be something that concerns everybody, not just a tale of hilarious corporate mismanagement, which is of course a layer. I think the question of whether physical violence has been committed is a total red herring. This shows how easy it is to link hacking with violent actions in the future, or at the very least, ignores the tremendous, potential, real-world economic and sociological impact of breaking into an ethereal data system that was at one pointed treated as secure.

People also seem to refer to the "hack" as a singular moment that is now in the past. I can assure you things are not back to normal at Sony. And the question might very well be - how will they ever be. That is what this case study should be about. The Hollywood circumstances are of course hilarious and still worth discussing. But "huh huh stealing a James Bond script is not the same thing as violence" is not the tongue-in-cheek treatment I need to be hearing from a cybersecurity expert.

Curious why this angle hasn't been suggested as to me it seems likely, was Lulzsec hired by North Korea? Vengeance, prior exploitation, capability, and government sponsorship. Even if North Korea is behind it, the aptitude with which this has all been handled to me clearly suggests a third party.
posted by phaedon at 12:36 PM on December 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


The truth is that freedom of expression comes at a cost. There will always be someone who wants to limit what we can say and think, and they will occasionally threaten us with violence to back it up. The actual practice of freedom (as opposed to words on a piece of paper) means taking on a certain amount of risk sometimes. Those bookstores that were firebombed and the independents that carried Satanic Verses anyway helped to preserve our freedom to read. In this case the theater owners and Sony are doing no one any favors by caving in to anonymous threats. They're making it harder for the next person to produce and distribute a controversial film.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:37 PM on December 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


The more I find out about the movie, the less convinced I am that North Korea had anything to do with this, and the more I suspect Sony of deliberately killing this dog in a way that would let them collect the insurance on it.
posted by Naberius at 12:39 PM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Here is a thoughtful argument as to why the hack was probably not the work of North Korea.

Some interesting points:

1. The broken English looks deliberately bad and doesn’t exhibit any of the classic comprehension mistakes you actually expect to see in “Konglish”. i.e it reads to me like an English speaker pretending to be bad at writing English.

2. The fact that the code was written on a PC with Korean locale & language actually makes it less likely to be North Korea. Not least because they don’t speak traditional “Korean” in North Korea, they speak their own dialect and traditional Korean is forbidden. This is one of the key things that has made communication with North Korean refugees difficult. I would find the presence of Chinese far more plausible. [...]

This change in language is also most pronounced when it comes to special words, such as technical terms. That’s possibly because in South Korea, many of these terms are “borrowed” from other languages, including English. For example, the Korean word for “Hellicopter” is: 헬리콥터 or hellikobteo. The North Koreans, on the other hand, use a literal translation of “vehicle that goes straight up after takeoff”. This is because such borrowed words are discouraged, if not outright forbidden, in North Korea. [...]

5. The attackers only latched onto “The Interview” after the media did – the film was never mentioned by GOP right at the start of their campaign. It was only after a few people started speculating in the media that this and the communication from DPRK “might be linked” that suddenly it became linked. I think the attackers both saw this as an opportunity for “lulz” and as a way to misdirect everyone into thinking it was a nation state. After all, if everyone believes it’s a nation state, then the criminal investigation will likely die.

posted by toofuture at 12:39 PM on December 18, 2014 [40 favorites]


So a comedy movie about a dictator who is a bully is pulled from movie theaters because the dictator is a bully.
posted by NoraCharles at 12:40 PM on December 18, 2014


So a comedy movie about a dictator who is a bully is pulled from movie theaters because the dictator is a bully.

Seems like the jury is still out on the causal relationships here.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:41 PM on December 18, 2014


Most of the buzz I've heard from people who have actually seen it has been positive to very positive. Basically everyone says it's fun

The last movie this team made was This Is The End, and that was terrific, so I have high hopes for this one.

There was no violence, there weren't even any threats, and we sold a shitload of Salman Rushdie novels.

Not at your store, maybe. But a number of bookstores were bombed for selling it, translators of the book were killed, and there was violent rioting with many deaths. Unfortunately, when someone says "I'm gonna kill people over this piece of media," they sometimes do.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:42 PM on December 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


The more I find out about the movie, the less convinced I am that North Korea had anything to do with this, and the more I suspect Sony of deliberately killing this dog in a way that would let them collect the insurance on it.

I really don't think Sony leaked their employees Social Security numbers to make back the investment on a mid-budget comedy.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:43 PM on December 18, 2014 [22 favorites]


Because use of either Seth Rogen or James Franco against enemy combatants or civilians is a war crime, regardless of what Dick Cheney says.

Can we send Adam Sandler instead?
posted by marienbad at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's funny how we're willing to shift the definition of injury.

There's nothing funny. Getting hacked is damage. It's also more abstract than the common use of "injury" or "violence." It's not hard to understand the common usages, that physical harm to one's self is "injury" or "violence," vs the idea of damage to property. It's perceived as a lesser damage -- especially data management damage.


Oh, I understand the common usage. I just don't agree with it, because it lessens the real impact these attacks cause.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2014


I really don't think Sony leaked their employees Social Security numbers to make back the investment on a mid-budget comedy.

This. As far as the hack itself goes, I'm far more concerned for low- and mid-level employee data than I am about which exec is a dick to whom or the state of negotiations for my beloved Spider-Man.

There is doubtlessly a whole lot of private, personal data out there. Who got fired for what, who needed medical leave for this or that -- stuff that shouldn't necessarily be in email or in files, but we all know it is. And it makes me wonder if this data won't all be used in background checks for job hiring & such of former Sony personnel later on.

"Hey, Applicant #4 says he resigned from Sony under amicable conditions and their HR backs that up, but the background check turned up internal Sony emails saying #4 is [insert justifiably private data here]."
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


which features North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un dying horrifically.

That's tasteless, it's true, but I don't foresee the response making Great Leader any less ronery.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Exactly my first thought about Sony, and now Paramount.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2014


If I set alight a hundred dollar bill, no one was injured.

Obviously facile: if it's my hundred dollar bill and I need it to buy food so I can eat, you bet I'm injured.


Well, considering that one of the larger bits of damage was the destruction of the Sony Pictures payroll system, which is causing employees to have their pay delayed at a time of year when that becomes a major impact, I think it's a point that needs repeating.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:53 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


NoxAeternum: Schneier's attitude is exactly the reason we have these problems.
Yeah... no. Schneier's attitude isn't why people vandalize, steal, and commit acts of violence, cyber or otherwise.

People do it because people suck - or rather, some people suck. Some suck a lot. Some are practically made of suck.

Ultimately, I don't think cyber-anything is that much different from wetware events. Stealing a credit card, or the credit card info, has much the same result - loss of money to someone, probably the card issuer - and is resolved the same way: new card/account. Hacking Sony's system, followed by terroristic threats? How different really is this from terrorists threatening without the cyber attack? And hate speech online has a measure of anonymity... but is it really any more anonymous than gasoline+matches, or a message tied to a brick?

People suck. Scheier didn't cause shit. And while we're getting all up in Sony's face about reacting the wrong way, if terrorists kidnapped someone that mattered to you (in Sony's case, tens of thousands of Ben Franklins) would it really be so easy for you to say, "Fuck you! I won't bow to your demands!"

Strategically it may be the better idea, and maybe even a sort of moral high ground, but... if even one theater is bombed right now, every movie studio will lose millions of peak-season profits as theater attendance plummets.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:55 PM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


a) If you don't care to be exposed a a dick, don't be a dick.
b) Loss of personal data should be a criminal liability at this point. Clearly, no corporation, no matter how much cash-on-hand, is spending the *right* amount on data security while in a stewardship role.
c) I sorta like the stream-it-free response.
d) 'Terrorism'? I dunno. If that Texas libertarian can crash his airplane into an IRS building as a protest (not terrorism), then I don't think vague threats are terrorism either.
e) Is causing a corporate $100M loss 'violence'? Hmmm...how many investment bankers are in Riker's for 'violence'?
posted by j_curiouser at 12:58 PM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


@flashboy: "Cumberbaaaaatch MT @Reuters: Sony hack made by sophisticated actor: White House"
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:00 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ah, American exceptionalism. Always a good way to dismiss an argument.

What? One does not have to think that America is better than everybody else to believe that a North Korean would immediately defect. America merely being average is easily sufficient to be better than North Korea.
posted by Jpfed at 1:00 PM on December 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


the list of terrorist attacks by North Korea is not long.

Not that it's particularly recent history, but NK did support the Japanese Red Army faction, and North Korean agents have kidnapped dozens of Japanese people along the Japan Sea coast.
posted by Nevin at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


bradbane: No one was actually hurt, for one.
That's a fairly narrow definition of "hurt". Pretty sure most people would be "hurt" if a recession cut their incomes - even though it's only silly old money.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not calling property damage "violence" doesn't minimize its impact any more than not calling it a "nuclear holocaust" does. What it does is to preserve the ability to talk about different things using different words.

By the way, this also applies to every other case where people try to expand the meaning of a negative term to score rhetorical points.
posted by Hizonner at 1:02 PM on December 18, 2014 [25 favorites]


I am baffled that anybody could seriously entertain the idea that Sony intentionally sank the movie to collect the insurance money.

...

'Terrorism'? I dunno. If that Texas libertarian can crash his airplane into an IRS building as a protest (not terrorism), then I don't think vague threats are terrorism either.

Bwuh? But that incident was described as a terrorist attack. That's how it's described on Wikipedia right now.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:03 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


People don't seem to understand how much of our world is virtual now days. If North Korea hacked Peter W. Singer's banks and he found that all his bank accounts and retirement money has disappeared because of a 'run-of-the-mill hack', I think he'd be just a little more impressed by the threat.

I seriously believe that if some half-baked country can do this to a major corporation on a whim, we should all be scared. What if, for whatever reason, our relationship towards a real powerhouse country turns very sour. Just imagine what they could do to our companies, to our economy.

This is like a three year old pulling out a brick from a skyscraper and it starts toppling. It doesn't put much confidence in the foundation of our society.
posted by eye of newt at 1:03 PM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's entirely possible the hacker was from South Korea.
posted by Nevin at 1:03 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


The more I find out about the movie, the less convinced I am that North Korea had anything to do with this, and the more I suspect Sony of deliberately killing this dog in a way that would let them collect the insurance on it.

This is gonna turn out to be Franco masterminding some IRL reenactment of The Producers, isn't it
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:04 PM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is gonna turn out to be Franco masterminding some IRL reenactment of Society, isn't it
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:05 PM on December 18, 2014


Not calling property damage "violence" doesn't minimize its impact any more than not calling it a "nuclear holocaust" does. What it does is to preserve the ability to talk about different things using different words.

Except that the point is that these things aren't nearly as different as you think, in which case preserving the difference serves only to create an artificial delineation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:05 PM on December 18, 2014


. . . the more I suspect Sony of deliberately killing this dog in a way that would let them collect the insurance on it.

Their insurance probably won't cover it anyway:

Consolidation meant that Sony Pictures and Sony Corporation of America . . . share a total policy limit of $60 million ($5 million retention) at an annual cost of $356,963. The policy includes security and privacy liability coverage, as well as event management, network interruption, cyber extortion, and regulatory action.

The problem is most of the cyber insurance experts that spoke with Salted Hash feel that $60 million isn't enough for a company Sony's size, and they're not alone.

posted by ryanshepard at 1:07 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I seriously believe that if some half-baked country can do this to a major corporation on a whim,
It's not established that any "country" was involved. It's certain that no country needed to be involved. This stuff isn't so hard that you need a state actor to do it.
posted by Hizonner at 1:07 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I seriously believe that if some half-baked country can do this to a major corporation on a whim, we should all be scared.

I seriously believe we should treat this as a wake-up call regarding cyber security.

But I am seriously fucking tired of the media, the internet, our politicians and everyone else telling me and the rest of my country that we should be afraid. That hasn't led to anything good. Instead, it has led to demonstrably awful results.

(Edit: not meant as a personal attack on the quoted poster. Sorry if it sounds that way. The quoted phrasing is commonly used rhetoric, and I get that. I'm just...appalled at how intensely our "free society" wants to push fear as a motivator.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:07 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I really don't think Sony leaked their employees Social Security numbers to make back the investment on a mid-budget comedy.

Oh sure, they were really hacked. But I really suspect Sony has fanned this into as much of a shitstorm as possible to give cover to themselves as they cancel something that was rapidly becoming more of a liability than an asset.
posted by Naberius at 1:09 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe making movies that joke about killing actual people who happen to be the leaders of nuclear armed states is not the most intelligent thing the American movie industry could be doing.

Seriously, imagine if a Russian film company released a major big budget movie about the assassination of an American president actually in office. Ha ha.
posted by spitbull at 1:10 PM on December 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


I seriously believe that if some half-baked country can do this to a major corporation on a whim,

The US was defeated in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Vietnam. There is no easy way to take on ISIL. Syria is still standing. Georgia beat Russia a few years ago.

Size does not matter much any more.
posted by Nevin at 1:12 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's not established that any "country" was involved. It's certain that no country needed to be involved. This stuff isn't so hard that you need a state actor to do it.

It's been established by the U.S. Federal government that N. Korea was involved.
posted by uraniumwilly at 1:14 PM on December 18, 2014


What if, for whatever reason, our relationship towards a real powerhouse country turns very sour. Just imagine what they could do to our companies, to our economy.

You mean like, say, Brazil or Germany? The NSA is in the process of answering your question.

It's been established by the U.S. Federal government that N. Korea was involved.

No, it hasn't - the NYT article quotes unnamed White House sources, no official announcement has been made, and the FBI said last week that there was no credible evidence linking North Korea to the attack. Looks more like confusion and disarray on the US side rather than certainty.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:14 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Remember the glory days of America, when brave, uncompromising movies like Hot Shots! Part Deux could be made and released without fear? This generation is passive and weak, I tell you.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:16 PM on December 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


spitbull: Seriously, imagine if a Russian film company released a major big budget movie about the assassination of an American president actually in office. Ha ha.
1. I don't give a shit if it's tasteful or not. That's COMPLETELY irrelevant to whether or not they should have made it - freedom being what it is.

2. Hot Shots! Part Deux, a very successful American comedy about (in part) a US president killing the leader of Iraq in a gory, lulzy way.

3. Again, because it bears repeating: it doesn't matter if Sony's movie is in good taste or not. Period.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:17 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


ooops, looks like the testing phase of media-suppression contingency plan VERMILION-PARACHUTE got a little out of hand
posted by theodolite at 1:18 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


that incident was described as a terrorist attack

I concede the point. for a while - as I recall - neither the press nor law enforcement were referring to it that way. however, I still can't equate this data grab to anything that actually drew blood.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:18 PM on December 18, 2014


I can't imagine what would happen if a foreign country produced a film about assasinating a sitting US president.
posted by ckape at 1:23 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Nor can I equate someone smashing all the windows on my car to getting punched in the face - and yet both are violent and frightening. There's really no point in pretending there's some sharp line drawn between "possessions" and "immediate bodily safety".
posted by IAmBroom at 1:26 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


What I wonder is how many major American and international companies have been quietly pwned by one hacker or another. Is it wrong that my guess is, "Most of them?"
posted by Drinky Die at 1:28 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Tell you what, if this movie ever comes out on DVD* you are all welcome to come over to my place and watch it. I'll throw a big party and everything.

(*) or streaming, torrent, or whatever.
posted by flyingfox at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2014


What I wonder is how many major American and international companies have been quietly pwned by one hacker or another. Is it wrong that my guess is, "Most of them?"

Threadsitting now, but that's likely accurate. Sony itself failed to report a major breach this past January.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:34 PM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Seriously, imagine if a Russian film company released a major big budget movie about the assassination of an American president actually in office.

I would have zero problems with that (and, I think, a lot of other people would be in the same boat), because I can distinguish between fiction and reality. Also, I believe in free expression. Sure, pundits would scream about it, but I don't think anything real would come of it. It's not as if the CIA would get involved.
posted by axiom at 1:36 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho should have been enough to set off a retaliatory strike against Dallas-Fort Worth.
posted by Nevin at 1:38 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Except that the point is that these things aren't nearly as different as you think, in which case preserving the difference serves only to create an artificial delineation.

I don't think it's artificial, so I will have to respectfully disagree with you. My definition of violence has always been harm against an actual person. This is not to diminish the damage or hardship their employees feel. I just don't believe it is 'violence' and I think it's hyperbole along the same lines as calling everything we don't like 'terrorism' these days.

Unless you also think boycotts, strikes, etc are 'violence' because hypothetically someone somewhere is losing money. I consider those things damaging, but it's not violence.
posted by bradbane at 1:45 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Tell that to the Sony Pictures staff currently forming a class action suit . . .

ah, good. yes, that is appropriate and reasonable.

all the rest, not so much.
posted by gkr at 1:45 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Within a few hours, a torrent of The Interview appears on all the major sites, it looks real and plays fine, but playing it unleashes a subtle virus into the user's device that slowly replaces and fills the hard drive with pictures of a shirtless James Franco....
posted by The Whelk at 1:46 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


We're all Shirtless James Franco now.

#NeverForget
posted by vibrotronica at 1:57 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


You can go back farther than last year if you want Sony being hacked: Sony has a pretty poor history with cybersecurity. More broadly, there's a blurry line between between industrial espionage, cybercrime, and intel and military ops these days, with large corporations presenting especially vulnerable breach points or leak points.

But even run-of-the-mill crime has an interesting history where Japanese-owned corporations are concerned. No one ever caught the Monster with 21 Faces either, and the victims tended to pay up rather than tighten security or push back.

This feels a lot like one of the usual financially motivated cyberattacks that have hit loads of corporations over the last decade with the trollish theatricality of a few of the more high-profile instances. But it's also worth noting that nearly all of those instances, like a lot of run-of-the-mill digital piracy, involved insiders, too; and at least some such attacks do seem to have the support of governments.
posted by kewb at 1:58 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


My definition of violence has always been harm against an actual person. This is not to diminish the damage or hardship their employees feel. I just don't believe it is 'violence' and I think it's hyperbole along the same lines as calling everything we don't like 'terrorism' these days.

I don't disagree with your overall sentiment. But I don't understand how you have it hard-coded in your mind that terrorism and violence are inextricably linked. Perhaps you are trying to contain a word from being used too often to describe too many things.

Still, the counter-argument is that intimidation is a big part of what is commonly considered "terrorism" - hence the word terror - and while "terrorism" may involve physical violence towards a group, it generally also affects a larger, secondary group - that readily identifies with the first group along say, political lines - in non-violent ways. Which is another way of saying - it sends a message.

So again, this entire argument is a red herring, and it's introduced in the first paragraph or so of the poor interview with Peter Singer.
posted by phaedon at 1:58 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, and apparently the usual unnamed government sources are already whispering sweet nothings to the media about "possible retaliation" against North Korea over this. Somebody's pretty well convinced it's not just lulz.
posted by kewb at 2:02 PM on December 18, 2014


I don't think it's artificial, so I will have to respectfully disagree with you. My definition of violence has always been harm against an actual person. This is not to diminish the damage or hardship their employees feel. I just don't believe it is 'violence' and I think it's hyperbole along the same lines as calling everything we don't like 'terrorism' these days.

Again, I find it very hard to say that the employees of Sony Pictures are not materially harmed by having their private information disseminated against their will or by having their income interrupted. And just because you say "not to diminish" doesn't change that you are, in fact, diminishing the harm that they have suffered.

Unless you also think boycotts, strikes, etc are 'violence' because hypothetically someone somewhere is losing money. I consider those things damaging, but it's not violence.

There is a vast difference between those actions and a malicious intruder harming people by destroying infrastructure they depend on.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:06 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]




(tl;dr: weed and the FBI)
posted by toofuture at 2:13 PM on December 18, 2014


Kim Jong-il reached out from his death bed. "Take my hand, my son, my heir." Kim Jon-un grasped his fathers hand in his own. "I am here, father."
"Do not.." wheezed the dying dictator. "Do not falter.. You must be strong for our great nation."
"I will, father."
"Do not let the Americans take the piss out of you. Every night I close my eyes. Every night I see puppets! Puppets of me singing a sad song! Do not let this happen!" The dying man trailed off in a fit of coughing.
The soon to be leader of the greatest nation under Heaven opened his mouth to speak, but before any words came out, the refrain "America! Fuck-YEAH!" blared forth from the phone in his pocket. It was Dennis calling him back. Kim Jong-un quickly hurled the phone out the open window and prayed his father did not notice. He shut his eyes and, not for the first time, hoped the old man was dead.
There was silence. Sweat run down his neck as he slowly opened his eyes.
Kim Jong-il was still, unmoving. His son sighed in relief.
"Fuuuuuuuccckkkkk yyyyyyyyooooouuuuuuuuu," the dying dictator declared.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:29 PM on December 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


In terms of theaters pulling the film: AMC is owned by Dalian Wanda Group, a private (not a state owned enterprise) Chinese holding company.

If you really wanted to cause economic damage, you'd target NASDAQ/CME/ICE.
posted by PMdixon at 2:37 PM on December 18, 2014


Somebody's pretty well convinced it's not just lulz.

Oh you mean like they where convinced about the WMDs in Iraq?
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:03 PM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Truth is we don't know what these hackers are capable of.

Well they know a lot about Sony and not a lot about North Korean dialects so I'm guessing they are more capable of being current or former Sony employees or contractors than North Korean super sekret agents.

Also, this has set a very bizarre precedent for blocking the release of movies.
posted by fshgrl at 3:06 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Truth is we don't know what these hackers are capable of.

They can launch nuclear missiles by whistling into a payphone, of course.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:25 PM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


(Luckily, it's pretty damn hard to find a payphone these days.)
posted by entropicamericana at 3:27 PM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Perhaps it's "North Korea" as something evil for those of us in the west which is the stumbling block here. If someone said the NK government paid $10M to a Chinese or Russian hacking group via their intelligence connections to pull this off would people be more believable? If so why is that extra thing I. The chain making is more believable - North korea can make nuclear bombs and nearly world class soccer teams but not decent hackers?
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 3:46 PM on December 18, 2014


North Korea kind of has a cartoonish evil reputation in addition to the terrifying real evil. That cartoonish evil can sometimes make it harder to take them seriously. The obsession with Hollywood and movies in general is part of that reputation. It makes sense to see mocking the leader as a threat when it's such a personality cult, but from the outside looking in it seems absurd they would care enough to do it.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:59 PM on December 18, 2014


For me personally it's the automatic assumption of "state actor" (before we even get to North Korea) that is a stumbling block.
posted by PMdixon at 4:10 PM on December 18, 2014


But if there had been even one terroristic attack, can you even imagine the kind of hell Sony would have caught?
posted by clockzero at 11:37 AM on December 18


If Sony had released it anyway, and someone bombed a theater as promised, Sony would not be at fault, just as a newspaper should not be morally liable for the murder of a cartoonist who published a drawing of Muhammad in its pages. We should never blame the victims of a crime, whether it's a sweet old grandmother or a multinational megacorporation.
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 4:12 PM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yeah, whatever this is about, it's not about what we're being told it's about.

We can take the Gamergate position on this: "Sony Doxxed themselves!!!1ONE! Sony is a professional victim!


God DAMN IT.

Living in a free society means that sometimes people are gonna get hurt. It's the price you pay.


"Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make."
posted by happyroach at 4:41 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Home of the Brave," indeed.
posted by workerunit at 4:56 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


1. The broken English looks deliberately bad and doesn’t exhibit any of the classic comprehension mistakes you actually expect to see in “Konglish”. i.e it reads to me like an English speaker pretending to be bad at writing English.

Bollocks.

2. The fact that the code was written on a PC with Korean locale & language actually makes it less likely to be North Korea. Not least because they don’t speak traditional “Korean” in North Korea, they speak their own dialect and traditional Korean is forbidden.


Also bollocks.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:58 PM on December 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


IAmBroom, you are so certain in your principled stance that it thrills me.

But any idiot knows poking a rattlesnake is stupid.

I'm not defending North Korea, but free speech comes with risks. Sony didn't manage them. They're a business, not a libertarian think tank. Ergo, stupid.
posted by spitbull at 4:59 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Schneier's attitude is exactly the reason we have these problems.

No, it's not. That's hyperbole, and blaming the spectator for creating a spectacle they didn't pay to see, as if everybody being Dead Serious Angry About This would somehow discourage attackers from participating in their exploits. Bruce Schneier is not the judge and jury for this situation.

I'm sorry, but if you do $100M of damage and threaten violence, you are a terrorist, even if you were acting on a lark.

No. Terrorism has a specific definition and we don't need this sort of attitude that has pervaded computer fears for far too long. Think about the cumulative damage done by spammers and the botnets and operations that go into the various internet scam factories -- they are scams, not terrorism, and they are far worse in the long run.
posted by aydeejones at 5:28 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


It shows how biased I am as a "cyberpunk" enthusiast since the early 90's that I totally glossed over the "physical violence" stuff like Schneier. Threatening violence is almost always terrorism in my book though I still prefer that there be a true political component and "lulz" psychopathy deserves its own evil appellation. I certainly need to read more on this topic, though.
posted by aydeejones at 5:31 PM on December 18, 2014


"Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make."

As a SWM, I play the game of life on easy mode, and I'm fully aware of that. On this particular score, though? Free society with free speech? I'm rolling the same dice everyone else rolls.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:36 PM on December 18, 2014


Can we *please* stop talking about the precise definition of terrorism? It's been pretty clear what various people here consider the term to mean, and whether it includes physical or simply "material" damage, etc. I feel like if everyone knows (more or less) what happened to Sony -- if not who did it -- and everyone's being pretty clear about what they mean by calling something terrorism or not-terrorism, then this kind of thing just boils down to "you should use this word *my* way!" "no, you should use it *my* way!" and that seems unnecessary (and annoying) if the facts are not really in dispute.
posted by uosuaq at 5:38 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


2. The fact that the code was written on a PC with Korean locale & language actually makes it less likely to be North Korea.

...

5. The attackers only latched onto “The Interview” after the media did – the film was never mentioned by GOP right at the start of their campaign. It was only after a few people started speculating in the media that this and the communication from DPRK “might be linked” that suddenly it became linked. I think the attackers both saw this as an opportunity for “lulz” and as a way to misdirect everyone into thinking it was a nation state. After all, if everyone believes it’s a nation state, then the criminal investigation will likely die.


so, the hackers were a random group who set their locale to korea to compile the malware, but didn't intend to make it about korea, then brought it up after the media did? the former point seems to undermine the latter, unless the group was south korean which seems pretty unlikely
posted by p3on at 5:41 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course this is terrorism. It was the **threat of violence** that caused Sony and the theaters to pull the movie.
posted by Nevin at 5:47 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Guy in the cubicle outside my office this morning: "Well, we're not talking about torture anymore, are we?"

In other news, I wonder what a graph of the relative stupidity of U.S. national dialogue would look like for the last fifteen or so years.
posted by Mooski at 5:53 PM on December 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


You know the only about this all that's really bothering me?

No one's making any accusations that this is a false flag designed to garner publicity.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:14 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


No one's making any accusations that this is a false flag designed to garner publicity.

I wish! On my FB feed, everyone is "joking" about how this was either a Sony publicity stunt, or a way for Sony to dump the movie. Ah, here too.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:18 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jesus, add a bit of warning when you post links like that?
posted by Nevin at 6:18 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't buy for a minute that North Korea was centrally involved in this hack, and I'm disappointed that so many suddenly believe the same "senior administration officials" who assured us the CIA was definitely not torturing folks and the NSA would never spy on US citizens. Seriously, cui bono? Blaming this on North Korea lets an embarrassed corporation deflect responsibility and an embarrassed intelligence community cyberbang the cyberdrums of cyberwar.

The NYT already changed this headline from "US Links North Korea to Sony Hacking" to "U.S. Said to Find North Korea Ordered Cyberattack on Sony." I predict we'll see them slowly walk the claim back further in the days to come.
posted by ecmendenhall at 7:02 PM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Dude in the comments of this Variety apologia went Godwin, but he thereby gets to the meat.
If Nazi groups threatened to bomb movie theaters for showing Schindler’s List, would you have approved of pulling that movie too?
posted by Kylio at 7:14 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seriously, cui bono?

more like, cui boner
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:24 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


What does Bono have to do with this?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:01 PM on December 18, 2014


Also, this has set a very bizarre precedent for blocking the release of movies.

There's already precedent for TV shows. It's interesting, though, to compare the government's response to the threat of violence over the South Park episode with the response to the Sony hackers' threats. I don't think the President made a statement, for instance, about the South Park episode.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:15 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


At this point, they can fight censorship by streaming the stupid and unfunny movie for free. They kind of come out ahead because they can write the whole debacle off as a loss on their taxes.
posted by Renoroc at 8:18 PM on December 18, 2014


cyberbang the cyberdrums of cyberwar

Easily worth $5
posted by flabdablet at 8:19 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I beleive the U.S. government has probably had some significant conversations with Sony, Japan and South Korea on how to respond to this incident. Pulling the film and blaming North Korea compells the U.S. and it's allies to respond. It puts North Korea and China on notice that there will be consequences. Now the whole discussion will happen with China about what the consequences will be.
posted by humanfont at 8:47 PM on December 18, 2014


Ugh, that's the worst page I've read in a while EmpressCallipygos. Some people do indeed suck.
posted by quin at 10:12 PM on December 18, 2014


There's two different dramas playing out that seem, to me, to be mixed together. First, the film The Interview that Kim Jong Un is all pissed about and a few months ago ranted about. Early reviews are at best lukewarm, so it would probably tank at the box anyway.

The other narrative is that Sony did some major downsizing this year, including a whole bunch of IT folks. Lo and behold, a massive internal leak shows that the Sony film execs were/are making HUGE revenue from movies but they're slashing jobs anyway. Typical job, uh, creators. If I were in Sony IT and I knew this, wouldn't I be pissed about getting canned? Wouldn't I want revenge?

Sony wants people to think the hack was from North Korea and this recent threat is from North Korea. toofuture linked some really good reasons why that's probably not the case.

This is a case of disgruntled IT guys taking their revenge. That angle makes the most sense.
posted by zardoz at 10:54 PM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


If I were in Sony IT and I knew this, wouldn't I be pissed about getting canned? Wouldn't I want revenge?

Given Sony's frankly deplorable record on IT in general and IT security in particular, I do find the idea that there may be an ex-Sony-IT person so utterly fucking clueless as to contemplate such a revenge sadly plausible.
posted by flabdablet at 10:59 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, at least nobody is calling this a false flag attack.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:01 PM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


No one's making any accusations that this is a false flag designed to garner publicity.

My SO's theory is the hackers found something really juicy and are blackmailing Sony into keeping the film out of cinemas. Would anyone like to speculate as to what it might be?
posted by biffa at 11:48 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


biffa: "My SO's theory is the hackers found something really juicy and are blackmailing Sony into keeping the film out of cinemas. Would anyone like to speculate as to what it might be?"

Why the need for an underlying conspiracy? Hackers threaten Sony with terrorist attacks if movie is released. Many movie theaters decide not to show movie. Sony decides it doesn't make sense to take risk of incident given that even if they were to screen the movie, there aren't going to be many theaters showing it, and they wouldn't make much money. Why does there have to be some super-secret other reason?
posted by Bugbread at 11:55 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's the need not to have a conspiracy? What do you have to be afraid of?
posted by biffa at 1:36 AM on December 19, 2014




On a different tangent, this is yet another demonstration of how corporate developers are inefficient and incompetent. Sony, Target, Home Depot, etc should hire the Obamacare development team to ensure scalability and security.
posted by Poldo at 4:44 AM on December 19, 2014


No I kind of like those sites working even if they aren't totally secure.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:32 AM on December 19, 2014


George Clooney has been trying to circulate a petition, and has some interesting points.

Q: How were these terrorists able to isolate Sony from the herd and make them so vulnerable?
CLOONEY: Here’s the brilliant thing they did. You embarrass them first, so that no one gets on your side. After the Obama joke, no one was going to get on the side of Amy, and so suddenly, everyone ran for the hills. Look, I can’t make an excuse for that joke, it is what it is, a terrible mistake. Having said that, it was used as a weapon of fear, not only for everyone to disassociate themselves from Amy but also to feel the fear themselves.

...

I understand that someone looks at a story with famous people in it and you want to put it out. OK. It’s a drag, and it’s lame. But there’s not much you can do about it. You can’t legislate good taste. The problem is that what happened was, while all of that was going on, there was a huge news story that no one was really tracking. They were just enjoying all the salacious sh*t instead of saying, “Wait a minute, is this really North Korea? And if it is, are we really going to bow to that?”

posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:02 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


So Clooney, G is completely sure that this is State Sponsored Terrorism and that the "hackers" responsible are skilled enough to pose a credible threat not only to a corporation with a notoriously shitty record on IT security but to the US Government itself, and he's all about the Need to Stand Together and Censorship and Everything Changes Now and on and on and bla, bla, bla, bla, bla.

Shouldn't really be a surprise to find out that Hollywood sure does like it some drama.

Meanwhile in a trailer park somewhere quiet and out of the way, a young man with moderate technical skill and very poor impulse control cannot decide from moment to moment whether he should be laughing his fucking head off at the media firestorm he's managed to start or pissing himself in terror at the prospect of the FBI arriving on his doorstep if he allows himself to sleep. Or possibly both.

North Korea my huge wobbly arse.
posted by flabdablet at 6:19 AM on December 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Sony wants people to think the hack was from North Korea and this recent threat is from North Korea. toofuture linked some really good reasons why that's probably not the case. This is a case of disgruntled IT guys taking their revenge. That angle makes the most sense.

Couldn't it be both? I mean, if you were a disgruntled former employee, why would you want to do the hacking yourself? Much easier to just drop a dime (or rather, send an email) to someone who really, really hates your employer, tell them what you know, and let them do the deed.

I mean, you don't want to be the one stinking of kerosene the morning after your office burns down. Much easier to just whisper in the ear of the local pyromaniac which doors are going to be unlocked.

Or maybe you just toss it to some lulzy hackers somewhere, letting them know that they should pretend to be the North Koreans because that's what Sony fears most.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:51 AM on December 19, 2014


Maybe, but at this point, I don't see why a rogue employee with fake North Korean hackers is any more plausible than plain old real North Korean hackers. Why wouldn't a disgruntled employee prefer a scheme which would end in his/her personal enrichment? I'm willing to cede that it's not yet proven who the hackers really are, but that uncertainty doesn't make the more convoluted scenarios any more likely.

Alternatively, this could be the work of lulzy hackers who actually are paid by NK interests.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:11 AM on December 19, 2014


The North Korea angle (I'm still a skeptic) is pretty much irrelevant when it comes to the sort of precedent this sets. It doesn't matter if this was a team of state-sponsored hackers or if it's one to three jackasses in Colorado doing all this in their spare time. The precedents have been set, and they continue to roll on.

Don't like something a company does? Hack 'em, embarrass them, and then make a vague, unsubstantiated terrorist threat. Hell, you might not even need to do all three steps. You'll get your way. 'cause this is the land of the free and the home of the brave, right?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:10 AM on December 19, 2014


Whatever reasons sony had for pulling the film, I've still seen no reason from Paramount about why they pulled Team America from theatres. That seems like just craven bed wetting cowardice.
posted by dejah420 at 8:33 AM on December 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, shit. There goes my skepticism. FBI now says it was North Korea
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:10 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


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

I think this is perhaps the first time I've heard the FBI champion the 1st Amendment?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:40 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


The precedents have been set, and they continue to roll on.

The precedents were set for quite some time. I mean, the targets used to be smaller companies that operated businesses that usually don't like being so public, like porn or gaming sites. The attackers have just moved on up to larger targets.
posted by FJT at 10:12 AM on December 19, 2014


Absolute Sownage
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:13 AM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Obama now: "I think they [Sony] made a mistake [in pulling the movie]." Daaaaamn.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:03 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Obama: I wish they would have spoken to me first.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:04 AM on December 19, 2014


Obama: Because of this, Congress needs to pass SOPA/CISA soon. Oh well.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:09 AM on December 19, 2014


Seriously? *facepalm*
posted by tonycpsu at 11:17 AM on December 19, 2014


Well, it was probably more CISPA/CISA than SOPA, but I bet if a bill passes it will be a combination of both.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:27 AM on December 19, 2014


@GlennThrush: "Re Obama not calling on TV correspondents: Remember how networks snubbed Obama request to air immigration speech?"

And only called on women. Zero male reporters.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:35 AM on December 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


He's trashing the place, and it's not even his place.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:45 AM on December 19, 2014


Obama: Because of this, Congress needs to pass SOPA/CISA soon.

I guess this is the year I become a full-blown conspiracy theorist. Pass the chemtrails, please!
posted by theodolite at 12:09 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's an account of what Obama said. And here's video of the complete news conference from which those remarks were taken.
posted by glhaynes at 12:21 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


He's trashing the place, and it's not even his place.

What do you mean by that?
posted by vibrotronica at 2:35 PM on December 19, 2014


Sorry, that was a butchered paraphrase of David Broder complaining about Bill Clinton back in the 1990s, in response to Thrush complaining about Obama daring not to call on TV correspondents during the press conference.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:07 PM on December 19, 2014


"Well that's the real question, isn't it? Why? The how and the who is just scenery for the public. Rodman, Clooney, Franco, the Boy Scouts . Keeps 'em guessing like some kind of parlor game, prevents 'em from asking the most important question, why? Why was Un killed? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?"
posted by clavdivs at 6:20 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Re Obama not calling on TV correspondents: Remember how networks snubbed Obama request to air immigration speech?"

And only called on women. Zero male reporters.


For the second time this month, I have to say: this is what trolling SHOULD be.

It's been a good month.
posted by happyroach at 9:35 PM on December 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Theodolite:
"EAR!"
posted by clavdivs at 10:35 PM on December 19, 2014


@davidschneider: "Hey, North Korea. I hear the next U2 album is full of songs slagging off your leader. Just in case you might want to, you know..."
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:00 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


HuffPo reports that Larry Flynt is making a porn version of The Interview. Never change, Larry Flynt. Never change.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:23 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]




Well, shit. There goes my skepticism

Have a booster shot.
posted by flabdablet at 8:06 PM on December 21, 2014


This is a great comment from a Reddit thread, detailing what we know about what happened--what was leaked, when, which pieces are connected, etc.

tl;dr: It looks like North Korea is indeed behind the legitimate hacks, but that there has been some copycat leaking of information, as well. The threats of violence do not appear to have ever been considered credible.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:52 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a whole thread on that over here. My considered position after reading it is still: North Korea my huge wobbly arse.

That thread, by the way, includes a link to a much better roundup with more information and less speculation.
posted by flabdablet at 12:59 AM on December 22, 2014




NK Internet crashed!
Whistle while you work.
posted by clavdivs at 3:28 PM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


HuffPo reports that Larry Flynt is making a porn version of The Interview. Never change, Larry Flynt. Never change.

The SphincterView!
posted by Renoroc at 2:45 PM on December 25, 2014


More from Schneier: Did North Korea Really Attack Sony?
posted by homunculus at 6:12 PM on December 26, 2014


Considering the possible alternate suspects. Are there any Sony insiders with detailed knowledge of North Korean hacking techniques, access to North Korean exploit kits, and the technical chops to do it? I doubt it.

The scenario where some North Korean supporters carried out the attack on their own also seems far fetched. This is North Korea afterall. That kind of creative, personal initiative would get you killed long before you made it to China or Japan to hack Sony out of love for the Dear Leader.

The alternate theories raised by various experts don't seem very plausible.
posted by humanfont at 7:28 PM on December 26, 2014


Not Sorry We Pee'd In Your Cesspool Says North Korea

Not Sorry We Shut Down Your Internet Says US

posted by fuse theorem at 6:31 AM on December 27, 2014 [2 favorites]




Oh I see well KJU your mama's so yada yada yada she blah blah blah. Meh.
posted by humanfont at 1:00 PM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Kim Jong Un's Daddy was so ugly they had to tie a steak around his neck just to get his subjects to look at him.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:14 PM on December 27, 2014 [1 favorite]




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