Say what you want about the 2014 Sony hack, it certainly presented an impeccable sense of style. For example, most successful breaches are boringly undetectable. There’s certainly nothing as melodramatic as, say, your computer screen turning blood red as a dripping pixel skull promises you that your most secret secrets are now public property. Yet that’s exactly what happened—the kind of hack that only happens in movies, being performed on a company that makes movies. The irony is delicious.
Thus, I can’t quite conceal a sense of glee when I write that the Sony hackers are probably still out there, hacking away. That’s according to two security researchers, Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade of Kaspersky Labs, and Jaime Blasco of AlienVault Labs, who claim that they’ve recognized the Sony hackers’ fingerprints on a number of other breaches. These include a breach that leaked the blueprints of South Korean nuclear power plants on Twitter, as well as an attack targeting Samsung. In each case, the hackers used the same code snippets, hacking techniques, and even spelling patterns (for whatever reason, they keep spelling Mozilla as ‘Mozillar,’ which I think must be some kind of adorable in-joke.)
Using these patterns, plus a machine-learning tool known as Yara, the researchers have been able to compare the digital forensics from the Sony attacks with other known breaches. What they’ve found is a truly impressive bibliography of cybercrime, including malware are breaches dating from 2013 until early 2016. The researchers have shied away from calling the hackers North Koreans, but it’s either that, or they just really hate South Korea, because with the sole exception of the Sony hack, that’s where all of their attacks have been focused. Also, they keep using snippets of Korean in their code.
While it’s a bit sad this this particular crew of hackers appears to represent one arm of a psychotically repressive government, I am still rather looking forward to the next time a U.S. corporation pisses off the hermit kingdom. Given recent history, the fireworks should be spectacular.
[Post image via Shutterstock]