Was Sony IT Security flawed. The Big Picture

IT Security Stories dominated at the end of the year

Last year ended with a flurry not of snow, but big IT Security stories involving the world of entertainment, Sony Playstation and Microsofts Xbox platforms were both the subject of cyber attacks over Christmas.

IT Security experts say the omission of The Interview was maybe significant. As it was not among the films made available as a result of the hacking
Maybe significantly “The Interview” was not among the films made available as a result of the hacking.

Of course Sony Pictures Entertainment had already been at the centre of one of the years’ big hacking stories, the release of confidential company emails, correspondence not to mention copies of unreleased movies and subsequent media coverage, have certainly put the spotlight on Cyber-crime and Cyber warfare and demonstrated that certainly in this case the difference can be difficult to distinguish. In the recent history of IT Security incidents involving hacking, the sheer scale of the leaked data was breath taking the hackers identifying themselves as “Guardians of Peace,” claim to have obtained some 100 terabytes of data stolen from Sony servers. To put that into perspective, 10 terabytes can hold the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress.

NSA IT Security intelligence was behind the FBIs’ allegations of North Korea involvement.

IT Security analysts claim the group responsible was called "The Guardians of Peace" and warned that if its demands were not met, secret data would be "shown to the world". Crucially though it did not outline its demands.
The group responsible called itself The Guardians of Peace and warned that if its demands were not met, secret data would be “shown to the world”. Crucially though it did not outline its demands.

The FBI claim they have information supplied to them by the IT Security group within the NSA and that the finger of suspicion points to North Korea. Apparently the NSA have been running an operation to infiltrate and infect PCs in the region with malware that allowed them to track the North Korean hackers and so they have been able provide this information to the FBI. If this was the case and they were aware of plans to infiltrate Sony this appears strange in that Sony appear not to have been informed before or even during the event. So we are seeing claim and counter claim, most notably IT Security specialist John McAfee formerly the head of the Antivirus company that bears his name, has this morning claimed to be in communication with “The Guardians of Peace” the group who have taken responsibility for the hacking and is emphatic in his assertion that the link to the North Koreans is a red herring. The United States government  through various outlets have consistently been pointing the finger of blame at the North Koreans. Unfortunately without corroborating evidence this is likely to prove a bad political move and a bad precedent to set. Inevitably as a result of the stance adopted by the USA when the next hacking takes place on a Russian company, they may well point the finger at the Americans and refuse to provide evidence to substantiate their claims. In what to some might appear to be a fit of petulance American government officials have attacked IT security companies who have pointed to the lack of corroborating evidence and told them to shut-up. As the political repercussions rumble on this story has certainly made interesting viewing and certainly when and if we are ever told the full story, we may have to re-write this article all over again. In any event you can be assured wherever this story ends the hacking of Sony will make interesting reading.

Hacking incidents at Media companies are not unknown and as we found can be a challenging enviroment

At this point I will say that a few years ago I was responsible for carrying out an IT Security project and investigation into the suspected hacking and subsequent disruption of a UK based Film Production Company.

What I found was that the nature of the business of film production, mobile film units etc. resulted in a network that was in a state of constant flux. What also initially hindered us was that log files and records necessary to carry out any meaningful investigation were in most cases absent, so we were faced with putting in place procedures and logging to make sure we could capture the event.

While Tamite IT Security were able to harden the network to try to ensure the event shouldn’t happen again, the exercise really amounted to the shutting of stable doors.

Strangely the problem mysteriously failed to manifest itself again after I arrived on the scene, so in that much I was successful.

The stable doors at Sony appear to have been of a prodigious size judging by the size of the Horse that issued forth. I would hazard that the legendry security which Sony have always managed to extend to its’ bricks and mortar assets didn’t extend to IT Security and the company’s digital assets. They are probably coming to realise that in common with lots of other companies these days the digital assets are just as big a prize to the criminals.

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