North Korea, Hacking and the Art of Misdirection

United States and North Korea directions.2015 has just started with a healthy dose of stupid from President Obama. He recently imposed sanctions against North Korea for supposedly hacking Sony studios. Given that North Korea is only one of a number of possible culprits behind the hacking, this doesn’t make sense. Is this a diversion to distract us from a bigger issue?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t help but know about the infamous Sony hacking which resulted in a lot of their dirty laundry being aired, showing the world what many already knew, that Hollywood has its share of racist, misogynistic decision makers and studio execs.

But dumping this information on the web and making threats to prevent the James Franco/Seth Rogen film The Interview from being released is unlikely the doing of North Korea. Many cyber security experts think it’s more likely a disgruntled employee or some hacktivists group. A state-backed campaign would be much more covert. They wouldn’t raise a big red flag, saying “Look what we just did!” Well maybe Putin would.

That said, Obama has been going with the simplistic narrative that North Korea, part of the nefarious Axis of Evil, is attacking our freedom based on some weak FBI evidence. And now he’s issued sanctions against the country, when we already have some in place.

We’ve been down this road before with Iraq. The government stirs up fears about a country that’s poised to attack us and take away our freedoms. Many Americans fell for this fear mongering hook, line, and sinker. And the few that questioned the narrative were ignored, or labeled unpatriotic or treasonous. Of course Iraq didn’t have the weapons we were led to believe existed.

In the current media storm surrounding The Interview and the Sony hacking, any talk from experts proposing explanations that don’t involve North Korea fall on deaf ears. I suppose that’s what happens when they try to explain how the hack job may have happened in detail and start using phrases like IP addresses and proxy servers. When the general news audience hears this kind of technical detail, they might as well be listening to the adults talking in a Peanuts cartoon. They hear gibberish.

The news pundits that say North Korea did it and are threatening our freedom to watch crappy movies are heard loud and clear. These folks don’t talk in technical details, and most probably wouldn’t understand them anyway.

But for those of us not buying this narrative, the question is why is the U.S. government so quick to accept the idea that North Korea is behind the hacking based on shaky info? Why aren’t they exploring other possibilities, like a pissed off employee with inside access to Sony’s IT infrastructure?

Perhaps this is a distractions from a much more real and serious cyber threat, China.

China’s been hacking our companies for years. Reportedly stealing billions worth of U.S. company secrets, yet the U.S. doesn’t rattle its sword at them too loudly, if at all. Maybe it’s because the government doesn’t want to kick that hornet’s nest.

Going after North Korea is an easy way to show we’re “tough” on cyber terrorists.

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