Sony Hack Might Have Killed a Certain Kind of Satire

Adam Sternbergh | Vulture | December 18, 2014

The notion that anonymous hackers can force a major corporation not only to recall but essentially recant a movie is, to put it mildly, unnerving

As they say on the internet, quoting an Anchorman: Well, that escalated quickly.

The Sony hack story, in just a few weeks, went from a bemusing diversion — at least for those of us whose personal info wasn’t spilled all over the internet — about what Sony employees think about Adam Sandler movies to an unprecedented corporate fiasco to an Alamo-like last stand to protect Freedom of Expression, in which the Alamo got torched to the ground and American freedom is now dead (1776–2014, RIP). Yesterday Sony decided to disappear The Interview — not apologize for it, not delay it, not bury it on VOD, but actually more or less pretend that it never happened and doesn’t exist and what is this Interview of which you speak?

Naturally, the notion that anonymous hackers can force a major corporation not only to recall but essentially recant a movie is, to put it mildly, unnerving. As to the threat of actual violence in actual theaters, cybersecurity expert Peter Singer put it this way to Vice: “The ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously.” He also inconveniently reminds us that words like hacking invoke an outsize, irrational fear; after all, he says, “Someone killed 12 people and shot another 70 people at the opening night” of The Dark Knight Rises, and “they kept that movie in the theaters.”

Meanwhile, Aaron Sorkin didn’t need to point a finger of blame at his favorite villain, the media, since his finger’s been pointed in that direction for years. “The wishes of the terrorists were fulfilled in part by easily distracted members of the American press who chose gossip and schadenfreude-fueled reporting over a story with immeasurable consequences for the public,” he said in a released statement.

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Hackers in charge: Sony hack and theater pullback reveals new era of hackers trouncing multinational corporations

Mike Adams | Natural News | 17 Dec 2014

Note the day of December 16th, 2014. That day will mark a milestone in history because it was the first time a U.S. cinema chain censored the launch of a movie due to threats from hackers.

“Carmike Cinemas has canceled the nationwide Christmas Day release of Sony’s ‘The Interview,’ the first theater chain to do so on the day hackers threatened 9/11-like attacks on theaters that showed the movie,” reported The Wrap today. [1]

Sony pictures has been under siege ever since an elaborate hack stole studio files and emails, some of which have already been released to the great embarrassment of studio executives and Hollywood stars. Natural News hasn’t covered any of this because it all seemed so pointless… until today.

Today the hacker group responsible for all this issued a direct terror threat, warning that a 9/11-style attack might take place at any movie theater that dared to show the movie. The threat elevated this entire incident to a whole new level: now it’s not just hacking and stealing studio records; it’s a direct and unambiguous terror threat against the American public.

The threat, reprinted at [2], reads as follows:

We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to. Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.

If this message sounds a bit too similar to “all your base are belong to us,” that’s because the FBI suspects there’s a North Korea link behind all this.

In order to understand the context of all this, it’s important to understand the real history behind North Korea and Japan.

Japanese soldiers raped and murdered Koreans in World War II – war crimes galore

Please note that I’m not in any way justifying these hacks and terror threats. North Korea is a truly evil empire led by a madman with nukes. It’s probably the most corrupt, oppressive police state on the planet. Nevertheless, the Korean people did endure many years of heinous crimes against their people, committed by the occupying Japanese army during World War II.

This glaring fact is conveniently left out of all discussions about Sony Pictures for the simple reason that nobody remembers history anymore — and so they utterly fail to understand the motivations behind things like a North Korean hack attack on Sony Pictures. (Sony is a Japanese company, in case you didn’t know. I’m always shocked that Americans who buy Sony products usually have no clue that Sony is a Japanese corporation.)

Much like the Chinese, Koreans have very long memories, and there are people still alive today in North Korea who were raped and tortured by the Japanese. If anyone is looking for a reason why North Korea would hack and threaten Sony Pictures, this is the first place to look. This situation is not merely about Sony releasing a movie that makes fun of North Korea’s dictatorial regime — which by the way is the ultimate expression of Big Government gone bad — it’s also a reflection of the history behind all this that no one else in America seems to want to acknowledge ever took place.

Hackers wield new power in an online world

But the real story in all this is how hackers have now achieved the cancellation of a movie launch across at least one large cinema chain. Others may soon follow. After all, no cinema company wants to be caught up in the middle of an actual terror bomb in one of its movie theaters.

The mere fact that a hacking threat — backed by a very successful hack and theft operation — has now achieved real-world censorship of a film is especially notable. What this means is that hackers can now force corporations to alter their actions merely by threatening them in a believable way.

What this translates to is a shift of power into the hands of nations who have the most well-trained cyber warriors. If this hack was, indeed, pulled off by the North Koreans, it means North Korea has a frightening technical aptitude that they might choose to deploy against other targets.

For example, what happens if the same group that hacked Sony decides to hack U.S. nuclear power plants and force them into critical meltdowns? Water treatment facilities, power plants and even the entire power grid is run by computers which are interconnected. Every modern computer is vulnerable to being hacked, so if this hacker group can get through Sony’s defenses, what’s to say they couldn’t hack into a couple of nuclear power plants, too?

The point I’m getting at here is that we are witnessing the rise of a new era of cyber warfare.

Cyber warfare may be far more destructive than kinetic warfare

Most of the warfare known throughout human history is “kinetic warfare.” It involves governments finding newer and more elaborate ways to throw things at their enemies: bullets, shrapnel, explosives, missiles, etc.

Kinetic warfare works by physically disabling the target nation’s personnel, logistics and infrastructure. That’s why kinetic warfare often involves bombing bridges, command centers, oil refineries, ammunition dumps and so on.

But cyber warfare operates solely via weapons of logic. It uses computer code to infiltrate and override key infrastructure elements such as power plants and power grid substations. At the appropriate moment, those systems can either be shut down or even turned into weapons — shutting off the coolant pumps at nuclear power plants, for example, causing those nuke plants to go critical.

Cyber warfare turns a nation’s own infrastructure against itself. It requires no bullets and no boots on the ground, yet it achieves many of the same results: disorganization, logistical snarls and even human casualties in the most extreme scenarios.

North Korea has long threatened to nuke the United States, but through its cyber warfare program, it might be able to achieve similar results without launching any nukes at all. That’s the scenario which really concerns me in all this. Yes, the Sony hack is bad, and I’m sorry that George Clooney’s private emails went public. But the real threat here isn’t against Sony… it’s against the entire infrastructure of the United States of America.

Perhaps the Sony Pictures hack was merely a test run to see what would happen and how the U.S. authorities (and public) would react. So far, the Sony hack has been wildly successful in terms of embarrassing Sony Pictures, aided largely by the online media which has rabidly reproduced all sorts of alleged emails from Sony executives engaging in some pretty outrageous behavior — such as making race-based jokes about President Obama and why he must like movies starring black actors.

Even without the terror threat thrown in the mix, this hack has already been earth-shattering in terms of its public relations smearing of Sony Pictures. And if this was carried out by North Korean cyber warriors, they appear to be wholly insulated from any repercussions. After all, they’re just a bunch of guys sitting at their computers… would the USA launch a kinetic missile strike against a bunch of geeks in a foreign nation? (I guess we’ll soon find out…)

The “success” of the Sony hack will only encourage more hacks against corporations and governments

The upshot of all this is that the Sony Pictures hack has been so wildly successful that it sets the precedent for more hackers to target more corporations and governments. Because what’s really happened here is that these hackers showed the world hacking worked well for them to get what they wanted.

They have caused total disorganization, confusion and a widespread loss of morale across Sony Pictures. They’ve frightened a major cinema chain into dropping the release of the film. They’ve frightening moviegoers, too, who might now stay home and avoid the film altogether. They’ve even made all other movie studios think twice about investing in a film about North Korea.

All the while James Franco and Seth Rogan must be thinking to themselves, “Holy crap, this is totally insane and we’re all going to get financially hurt by this.” It’s true: movie stars are typically paid a royalty percentage based on the movie’s financial success in theaters. But if nobody shows up in theaters because they’re all afraid of being firebombed by the Koreans, then the movie becomes a financial flop in addition to a cyber security nightmare.

Then again, I’m pretty sure everybody will now want to view this movie via digital rentals, because now everybody’s curious why the North Koreans have gone so crazy about this film. The hack and threat, in other words, may clobber movie theater revenues but it might multiply digital rental revenues down the road. (Now even I want to see this film just out of curiosity…)

Regardless of what happens with this Sony hack, the tone is now set: more corporations are going to be targeted by more hackers, and I predict we will one day see an elaborate hack literally destroy a large multinational corporation.

The future of cyber security may literally be found in… typewriters. When it comes to cyber security, low tech is the new tech.

Sources for this story include:


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