By now you may have heard about the infamous attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment. Just last month Sony Pictures Entertainment networks were attacked, resulting in the illegal release of several upcoming films, including Christmas movie Annie, as well as the leak of sensitive documents including the personal details of current and former employees, as well as some A-list celebrities. A group known as #GOP (Guardians of Peace) has claimed responsibility for the attack. Security experts have claimed that the Sony Pictures attack is far from unique, but interesting all the same. According to Todd Harris, director at Core Security, the attack constituted an intriguing mixture of hacktivism, social engineering, intellectual property theft and classic data breach.
“While the hack itself doesn’t surprise me, the varying tactics used does,” he said. “Not only was the entire network disabled, but the hackers put circa 1980s graphics on everyone’s computers with a semi-threatening warning in broken English.”
The PlayStation Network Attack
Sony has been hit by another hack — the PlayStation Network and store has been targeted and taken offline. Although the online store for games, films and TV shows seems to be back up and running once again, visitors to the site were brought to a halt on Sunday night with a message reading, “Page Not Found! It’s not you. It’s the Internet’s fault.” Gamers have also reported difficulties while trying to play online games. An anonymous individual or group calling itself Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility with a tweet late on Sunday reading “PSN Login #offline #LizardSquad”. The group posted a similar tweet after users had problems logging in to Microsoft Corporation’s Xbox Live service.
The latest hack comes less than a week after Sony celebrated the 20th birthday of the PlayStation games console with the launch of a limited-edition original-grey PS4 console . Although it is not the first time the PlayStation Network has been hacked, this latest cyber attack came at a bad time for Sony, which is relying on strong figures from its gaming division to make up for poor sales of smartphones and other consumer electronics.
After one attack in 2011, the personal information of over 100 million PlayStation Network users was leaked. Since last month’s attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment networks, speculation has been rife that North Korea carried out the attack in revenge for the impending release of The Interview. The movie, written by Seth Rogen, tells the story of a farcical assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un by two journalists who have been recruited by the CIA. Earlier this year North Korea wrote a letter to the United Nations, complaining about the film and accusing the U.S. of sponsoring terrorism. The North Korean government on Sunday denied responsibility for the attack.
Companies need to take action
Mike Davis, CTO of CounterTack, told eWEEK that being held to ransom is rare but has happened before, including a few cases in Mexico where networks were held hostage until hackers were paid off. Davis points out that Sony’s response to the attack was unsophisticated, simply shutting down systems to prevent further problems. “This information highlights that even after being breached multiple times, the firm most likely does not have the ability to rapidly perform incident response to understand what the attack has done, where the attacker is and how to remediate the attack quickly,” he said. Kevin O’Brien, vice president and founding team member at Conjur, claims that companies should find a new role-based way to segment permissions which could adapt to how people and code interact on today’s networks. Another of his ideas is for organizations to keep access and authentication logs separate from the systems which produce them.
Tim Keanini of Lancope also advises that companies should keep up constant monitoring of their networks. He claims that without the ransom demand it could have been a long time before the attack was detected, and companies need to take greater responsibility for detecting breaches themselves.
In the latest development, a new statement has been issued by the hackers, threatening to enact real-world violence on anyone who goes to see The Interview on Christmas Day, which has resulted with The Interview actors, Seth Rogen and James Franco halting their media appearances for the upcoming movie.