NSA hacked North Korea before Sony attacks

A lot of people thought the US were fairly quick in accusing North Korea for the huge hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, however newly leaked NSA documents show that the accusation may not have been a hasty finger point.

The NSA managed to hack into North Korean networks back in 2010, and had a pretty good inside view of their hacking capabilities, the New York Times reported.

With the help of South Korea and other allies, and through Chinese networks that connect North Korea with the rest of the world, the NSA managed to place malware and tracked the internal workings of many of the computers and networks used by the North’s hackers.

There are, in total, around 6,000 hackers in the group, South Korea claims.

The evidence supporting claims that it was in fact North Korea behind the attack were so strong that the US president Barack Obama "had no doubt" about it, and promised retaliation in the form of new sanctions against the communist country.

“Attributing where attacks come from is incredibly difficult and slow,” said James A. Lewis, a cyberwarfare expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The speed and certainty with which the United States made its determinations about North Korea told you that something was different here — that they had some kind of inside view.”

However not everyone agrees with that sentiment, Stuart Poole-Robb, chief executive of international strategic intelligence and cyber security adviser KCS Group, told ITProPortal:

"Although there has been no confirmation that the Sony hack did originate in North Korea, the fact that the NSA is reported to have carried out extensive investigation into North Korea's cyber capability as early as 2010 highlights the urgent need to open improved communications channels between government agencies such as the NSA, with their enhanced cyber capabilities, and corporations in the private sector, whose cyber defences are now generally several years out of date.

It is notoriously difficult to be certain in pinpointing the origin of any overseas cyber attack and it should be noted that the the Chinese government also has a cyber team actually located in North Korea."

Last November, Sony Pictures was hacked, and a number of classified data was stolen, including personal emails, celebrities' phone numbers, as well as a couple of unreleased movies.

A hacking group #GOP from North Korea took credit for the attack, claiming Sony offended their country through the movie The Interview, in which a couple of journalists go on an undercover mission to assassinate the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.