FBI formally accuses North Korea in Sony hack

FBI formally accuses North Korea in Sony hack
The Federal Bureau of Investigation first time on Friday officially weighed in on the colossal computer hack suffered by Sony Pictures Entertainment that in recent days has been elevated to an issue of national security.

According to a statement released by the bureau late Friday morning, the FBI says there is now “enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible” for the major breach.

“Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korea actors previously developed,” the FBI said. “The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the US government has previously linked directly to North Korea.”

“Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyberattack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”

Speaking at his year-end press conference on Friday, US President Barack Obama also confirmed that the United States believes North Korea was behind the cyberattack. He added that the US will respond "in place. time and manner we choose."

READ MORE:Sony hit with class action suit over hacked employee info

Earlier Friday, Reuters reported that North Korean hackers had launched the breach, citing unnamed US officials, but did it by way of Chinese computer networks to cover their tracks.

The intrusion into the Hollywood studio’s internal networks last month has since caused a trove of sensitive files, including stolen company emails, records and unreleased films, to surface on the web.

Earlier this week, Sony announced that it would be cancelling plans to release “The Interview” next week, a comedy in which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is assassinated, following threats perpetrated by the purported hackers.

READ MORE:‘The Interview’ premiere canceled in wake of Sony hacker ‘9/11-style’ terror threats

Previously, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), the outgoing chair of the United States House Intelligence Committee, and Newt Gingrich, the Republican politician who formerly served as speaker of the House, said they were all but certain the Kim regime was behind the hack. Prior to Friday, however, the State Dept. said it could not yet put the blame publicly on any entity.

On its part, Pyongyang has denied any alleged involvement, but hailed the attack as a “"righteous deed" and that screening “The Interview” should be considered an "act of terrorism.”

Following the FBI’s official announcement, a North Korean diplomat has reiterated that his country has nothing to do with the cyberattack.

"DPRK is not part of this," a North Korean diplomat told Reuters on Friday declining to comment further.

According to CNN, the hackers involved in the breach said after “The Interview” was pulled from theaters that Sony may be spared further embarrassment if the studio continues to comply.

"It's very wise that you have made a decision to cancel the release of 'The Interview,'" the message said, according to CNN. "We ensure the security of your data unless you make additional trouble."

US Pres. Barack Obama will hold an end-of-year press conference on Friday afternoon where he is expected to weigh in on the Sony hack.