Following the major hack on Sony Pictures, some experts in the United States are skeptical of the FBI’s claim that North Korea is responsible.
Instead of blaming Pyongyang for the hack, the Cybersecurity firm Norse, based in California, believes that the hack was actually an inside job, led by a former Sony employee identified as “Lena.”
On Wednesday, a senior vice president of the Norse firm, Kurt Stammberger, told CBS News that the firm’s investigation has led them to believe that the Sony hack was so devastating, it was something that could have only been accomplished by someone on the inside.
“Sony was not just hacked, this is a company that was essentially nuked from the inside,” said Stammberger. “We are very confident that this was not an attack masterminded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history.”
Stammberger identified the main hacker as a woman who calls herself “Lena,” claims she is connected to the “Guardians of Peace” hacking group, and was a Sony employee in Los Angeles for ten years, before leaving in May 2014.
“This woman was in precisely the right position and had the deep technical background she would need to locate the specific servers that were compromised,” Stammberger said.
The FBI released a statement last week, blaming the breach on North Korea:
“Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks. The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. Government has previously linked directly to North Korea.”
Stammberger contested the claim, saying that any clues leading in that direction, such as the malware used to attack Sony having been used by North Korea before, have been easily ruled out by his firm, due to the fact that the same malware is used by hackers worldwide daily.
“There are certainly North Korean fingerprints on this but when we run all those leads to ground they turn out to be decoys or red herrings,” Stammberger said.
The massive hack on Sony came shortly before the company’s release of the movie “The Interview.” While the movie’s plot involved an assassination attempt on the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, CBS News reported that the “original demand of the hackers was for money from Sony in exchange for not releasing embarrassing information,” and that there was “no mention of the movie ‘The Interview.‘”