Obama: Sony Made A Mistake In Pulling 'The Interview' Theatrical Release
President Barack Obama announced today that North Korea is behind the devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
During a year-end news conference today, Obama also said that Sony "made a mistake" in pulling their release of The Interview from theaters in response to terror threats they received. "I wish they spoke to me first," he said. "I would've told them, 'Do not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.'"
He said that we couldn't live in a society where a dictator could impose self-censorship. If this was the reaction for a satirical film, he said this kind of fear could spread to documentaries and even news reports of stories dictators didn't like.
Although he said he was sympathetic towards Sony, he directed a jab towards North Korea for reacting in such a way in response to a satirical film starring Seth Rogen. "The notion that this was a threat to them gives you a sense of what kind of regime we're talking about here," Obama said.
As for how the U.S. government will respond, Obama said that they'll act proportionally and in a place and time and matter that they'll see fit, and that he wouldn't be announcing it in a press conference today.
He did, however, stress that they've set up a cyber agency team to prevent these kind of attacks, and that they've been coordinating with the private sector, but more needs to be done. Obama said that since the cyber world was the "wild west," it's of an utmost importance that Congress strengthen cyber laws.
Earlier this morning, the FBI also blamed North Korea for the Sony cyberattack and detailed what has led them to this conclusion.
"As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions," the FBI wrote in a statement.
The FBI, which has been working closely with Sony just hours after the attack that began as early as Nov. 24, say that they have found that the destructive malware used in the Sony hack led them to other links of other types of malware that the government organization knows that North Korean hackers have developed. They discovered similar methods of hacking and associated Internet protocol (IP) addresses in this security breach as ones they've linked to North Korea in the past. The FBI has also found that the tools used in this Sony hack bear a great resemblance to the ones used in a North Korea attack on South Korean banks and media outlets last year.
Although the FBI added that there would "impose costs and consequences" on whoever was responsible for the hack, it's not clear at this point what actions they'll pursue. According to Reuters:
U.S. experts say options for the Obama administration could include cyber retaliation, financial sanctions and even a boost in U.S. military support to South Korea to send a stern message to North Korea. But the effect of any response could be limited given North Korea's isolation and the fact that it is already heavily sanctioned.
The massive Sony security breach has led to the leak of a bevy of private documents and embarrassing emails to the public. The company pulled the theatrical release of The Interview, which was scheduled to be released on Christmas day, after receiving terror threats from Guardians of Peace, the group claiming responsibility for the hack. The comedy stars James Franco and Rogen as two bumbling guys recruited to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The North Korean government has previously said they believe the film is an act of war. Though they've denied any connection to the Sony hack and terror threats, they said earlier this month they thought the cyberattack was a "righteous deed."
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