North Korea denounced new US sanctions today and said the nation was “deliberately linking” it to the hacking of Sony Corp. computers.
President Barack Obama, who blamed North Korea last month for the attack, announced sanctions on 10 officials and three state organizations on Jan. 2. The US says the parties play key roles in cyber attacks, weapons proliferation and other illicit activities.
The hacking assertions are “absurd” and “major media and prestigious experts of the US and the West are becoming vocal claiming that the recent hacking attack was not made by North Korea,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported today, citing an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman. The US moves were its first public action after Obama said it would address the cyber-assault on Sony’s movie studio “in a place and time and manner that we choose.”
“We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a US company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement that accompanied the release of an executive order.
The decision by the US to tighten sanctions on North Korea is an “appropriate” measure against that nation’s persistent provocations, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its website.
The sanctions are intended as a signal to other countries engaged in offensive cyber activities, according to an administration official involved in the deliberations about the response. One of the intended recipients of the message is China, which has the world’s largest cyber espionage operation and has been the main point of influence over North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the official said.
The cyber-attack on Sony exposed Hollywood secrets, destroyed company data and caused the studio to initially cancel the release of “The Interview,” a comedy about a fictional assassination of Kim.