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Report: US Wants China to Stop North Korean Hacks with "Blocking Action"

Illustration for article titled Report: US Wants China to Stop North Korean Hacks with Blocking Action

Well, this is a weird twist. Just hours after we learned that North Korea wanted to work with the United States on a joint investigation into the Sony Pictures hack, The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. now wants China's help in stopping North Korean hackers. Apparently, U.S. officials want to unleash the Great Firewall on North Korea.

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At least, that's what it sounds like. "What we are looking for is a blocking action, something that would cripple their efforts to carry out attacks," an unnamed official told the Times. China reportedly hasn't responded to the request. However, as the paper reports: "[China's] cooperation would be critical, since virtually all of North Korea's telecommunications run through Chinese-operated networks." The hacks themselves were routed through China first and then through Singapore, Thailand, and Bolivia.

This puts everyone in a bit of a pickle. The U.S. and China don't exactly have the best relationship, especially on the cyber security front. After all, it was less than a year ago that the FBI issued wanted posters for Chinese hackers suspected of breaking into American networks. It doesn't sound like the U.S. has a lot of other good choice, based on the Times report. Economic sanctions are one. A more aggressive offensive strike on North Korean targets run by the U.S. military's Cyber Command is another.

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No matter what the options are, it's worth considering that if North Korean hackers broke into Sony Pictures, they could go after a target that would have real physical effects, like U.S. infrastructure—and that's the last thing anybody wants. As one official said, "There are a lot of constraints on us, because we live in a giant glass house." So "a blocking action" doesn't sound so bad, after all. [NYT]

Image via Getty

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DISCUSSION

Two reasons why North Korea isn't behind the attack:

1) According to online sources, The Guardians of Peace have reportedly stolen 100TB of data over the weekend and completely destroyed Sony Pictures' central network, leaving employees to do their job with a pen and paper. If North Korean were to have such technologically advanced ability to carry such hack, it would have done something drastically more threatening (stealing blueprint of US nuclear weapons?).

2. Most hilarious of all is that if North Korean were to assembly a group of hackers to destroy Sony Pictures, they wouldn't call themselves 'Guardians of Peace'... that's oxymoron. Instead, 'Instigators of War' would be a more appropriate title for them.

I think FBI did a great mistake of publicly announcing that North Korea was behind the Sony Pictures Hack. To cover their inability to trace the real hackers, FBI has made North Korea the scapegoat. The potential consequence of such ignorant act is that FBI will lose their credibility and accountability in the future.