North Korea prime suspect in Sony Pictures ransomware attack

Comedy film about assassination of Kim Jong Un said to be motive

Tags: Cyber crimeJapanNorth KoreaSony CorporationUSA
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North Korea prime suspect in Sony Pictures ransomware attack Comedy: Kim's government denounced the movie as 'undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war'. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  November 30, 2014

North Korean-backed hackers operating from China have become the prime suspects in last week's ransomeware attack on Sony Pictures, Re/code reported.

The motive could be objections to a forthcoming movie, to be released by Sony Pictures, called "The Interview", a comedy in which two journalists are recruited by the CIA to assassinated North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang articulated its disappointment in a strongly worded letter to UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, in June, describing the film as "undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war".

Sony Pictures' internal network was brought down by a group calling itself GOP (reportedly standing for "Guardians of the People"), which issued undisclosed demands for a reinstatement of systems. Employees at Sony Corp's US-based media subsidiary were reportedly working with pencils and paper while admins tried in vain to fix the problem.

The movie stars James Franco as the host of a TV show that Kim avidly watches, and Seth Rogen as the show's producer. When Kim offers them the opportunity to interview him, the CIA contacts them with a plan to assassinate the leader.

KCNA, North Korea's state-controlled media agency, quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman in June as pledging a "merciless counter-measure" if the film was released. According to the Voice of America, Kim's administration also wrote to US president, Barack Obama, requesting he block the movie's release.

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