Was FBI Right in Blaming North Korea for Sony Hacking? No.

The Interview
The Interview

The naïve manner in which FBI worked shows that more than investigating the case professionally, it acted merely to justify its existence.

By Rakesh Raman

When the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded that North Korea is behind the cyber attacks on Sony systems, the allegations of the apex investigation department were largely unfounded.

Fresh reports reveal that there are layers on layers in the hack case which FBI failed to investigate thoroughly and pronounced its findings in haste.

While FBI claimed that North Korea was supporting the “Guardians of Peace” or #GOP hackers, a new BBC report reveals that another group of hackers called ‘Lizard Squad. was helping the #GOP – a fact that FBI ignored.

In fact, ‘Lizard Squad’ had provided the login details of some Sony employees to #GOP which helped the latter intrude Sony systems and steal the classified data including controversial internal e-mails, digital copies of movies, and even parts of scripts of unreleased Sony films.

FBI had said that its findings are based on technical analysis and the past incidents, as the software “tools used in the Sony attack have similarities to a cyber attack against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”

But these are only conjectures that Pyongyang has been dismissing assertively. Worse, even President Barack Obama reacted on the basis of FBI’s unfounded claims and accused North Korea for the cyber attacks. Obama had said that America will respond proportionately. Subsequently, North Korea faced repeated Internet outages.

Now investigating cyber crimes—such as website hacks, intrusions, data theft, botnets, and denial of service attacks—is a top priority for the FBI.

The naïve manner in which FBI worked shows that more than investigating the case professionally, it acted merely to justify its existence. If FBI was sure of North Korea’s role in hacking, it should have traced back the hackers and provided the complete audit trail (a technical process that provides the evidence of the sequence of activities in a computer network) of the hacking attack. It didn’t.

Rather, FBI released its half-baked findings considering that they can’t be counter-checked. The so-called analysis of FBI was based on unsubstantiated media reports that since ‘The Interview‘ film that hackers targeted showed the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, North Korea is the culprit.

Unfortunately for FBI, technology doesn’t work that way. You can use technology to conclusively prove or disprove a case. If it’s so simple to conclude something on the basis of a concoction of unrelated theories, why do you need an FBI?

But now FBI is taking a cautious approach and trying to learn from its limitations. The Bureau says that now investigating cyber crimes—such as website hacks, intrusions, data theft, botnets, and denial of service attacks—is a top priority for the FBI.

The Bureau has launched a campaign with a job posting to bring aboard more technical talent, including computer scientists, IT specialists, and engineers. It is appealing to experienced and certified cyber experts to consider joining the FBI to apply their skills as cyber special agents.

That will be the right step for FBI in order to work in a totally professional manner in a field like technology where change is the only constant.

By Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Company

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