After quite a bit of speculation regarding whether or not the US was going to sit back and entertain (sometimes comical) oppressive threats or negotiate with foreign terrorists, it has been reported that the Obama Administration has finally decided to strike back against North Korea. In a bold move against their Asian adversary, the US government has decided to take a firm stand against foreign nationals who attempt to dictate what is and what is not allowed in the United States of America. The Obama Administration has decided to stand up for the rights of its citizens instead of sitting back on their laurels in hopes of eventually placating their aggressor.
In its first official response to North Korea’s alleged cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Obama Administration has reportedly imposed a wave of sanctions against North Korea’s government on Friday.
Regardless of the fact that private security analysts are currently still questioning whether or not North Korea is in fact responsible for the cyber attack, as per the FBI’s findings, the Whitehouse remains adamant that these sanctions be described as retaliation against the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary has released a formal statement assuring the public that the US government will not allow a foreign nation to bully its citizens by way of threatening them, oppressing their freedom of speech and expression, nor by allowing its citizens to be negatively impacted financially. He echoed President Obama’s words and has given firm assurance to the public that the US’ response will be in proportion to the North Korean attacks and that these sanctions are the first steps in that particular direction.
President Barack Obama has signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against any and all agencies and officials linked to North Korea’s government as well as the Workers Party of Korea. The order describes North Korea as offensive, destabilizing, and oppressive, with regards to its attempt at cyber bullying and coercion of Sony Pictures Entertainment in November and December of 2014. According to the Department of Treasury, three government related entities, as well as ten officials have been designated under these sanctions.
The end result? Being denied access to the US financial system, as well as being officially banned from the country. Kim Jong-Un has not specifically been named by the department or the administration, but representatives of the North Korean government, stationed internationally in locations such as Russia, Syria and Iran have all been designated. North Korea’s intelligence organisation, arms dealer, as well as their technology procurement organisation, have all been named and shamed and therefore placed under these sanctions. It seems the list of US sanctions is likely to keep expanding as North Korea is already subject to past sanctions due to their nuclear program.
Despite the fact that a number of Friday’s targets are already under sanction, House of Foreign Affairs Committee Representative; Congressmen Ed Royce, called for stronger measures to be put in place against North Korea.
Congressman Royce claimed it was good to see the Administration take action, but in the same breath proclaimed that many of the officials blacklisted presently have already been sanctioned in the past and will thus be unaffected. He suggested that the US need to take it further, that the financial institutions in Asia and beyond should be sanctioned just as was done back in 2005. This time it should be done specifically for supporting such a brutal and dangerous regime.
The cyber attack on Sony ended up severely disrupting Sony’s systems as well as releasing confidential information that lead to the public embarrassment of the company. It is believed that North Korea had set out to punish Sony because of their plans to release “The Interview”, which is a comedy about two journalists sent to North Korea to assassinate their leader.
However, it has been recently brought to the attention of the public, that there are cyber security experts within the private sector, who have been raising questions regarding the allegations that North Korea is behind the cyber attack.
Norse is just one such company, they claim to have strong evidence in their possession that supports the theory that the Sony hack was an inside job, which was probably carried out by a disgruntled former employee. It is said that they spent some time earlier this week briefing the FBI on their findings. The Senior Vice President of the company, named Kurt Stammberger reportedly handed over raw data to the FBI after briefing them for approximately 2 or 3 hours. Along with other pertinent details, he also informed the press that Norse had acquired sensitive data regarding the malware samples which logically point to extremely sensitive information, the type that only a Sony insider would be privy to.
On that same note, a former Sony employee has reportedly spilled the beans to Fox news regarding the apparently growing consensus that North Korea is in fact not responsible for the Sony hacks.
The main reason behind the growing doubt regarding North Korea’s guilt is a simple question;
“Why hasn’t North Korea released any other damaging information?”….
Well, personally I honestly don’t think it’s too farfetched that North Korea may not have wanted to use their best ammo so early on in the battle. They could be using the “save the best for last” tactic.
Despite continuous private sector investigations and reports of a growing general consensus, the FBI has decided to stand firmly by its original allegations. According to their official statements, the FBI has concluded that there’s no credible information to support the fact that anyone besides North Korea could be responsible for the Sony hacks.
The Obama Administration and the State Department all seem to be in agreement that North Korea is in fact guilty of the cyber attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew made a strong statement as part of Friday’s announcements, regarding how key North Korean officials and entities will now be further isolated and their activities will be disrupted.