North Korea warned that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment would lead to damage “thousands of times greater,” with targets including the White House and Pentagon.
Hackers including the “‘Guardians of Peace’’ group that forced Sony to pull a comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong Un ‘‘are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world,’’ the Kim-led National Defense Commission said in a statement published yesterday by the official Korean Central News Agency. Even so, North Korea doesn’t know who the Guardians are, the commission said.
‘‘North Korea would never admit it is responsible for the Sony hacking,’’ Kim Jin Moo, a North Korea researcher at South Korea’s state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, said by phone. ‘‘It can’t afford consequences like being put back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Yet it has to make sure its threat is taken seriously.”
President Barack Obama said over the weekend he would review whether the U.S. should put the North back on the terror list, speaking in an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley. The North came off the list in 2008 after being on it for 20 years.
The attack on Sony computers exposed Hollywood secrets, destroyed company data and caused the studio to cancel the release of “The Interview,” which envisioned two American journalists involved in a CIA plot to kill Kim.
Obama said last week that Sony had “suffered significant damage,” and vowed to respond to North Korea “in a place and time and manner that we choose.”
North Korea is ready to confront the U.S. in all areas including cyber-warfare, and has already entered “an unprecedented state of ultra-harsh counter-warfare,” the National Defense Commission said yesterday without elaborating on what that means.
The targets of its counteraction will include the White House, the Pentagon and the U.S. mainland, NDC said. “The just struggle to be waged by them across the world will bring achievements thousands of times greater than the hacking attack.”
North Korea on Dec. 20 called on the U.S. to hold a joint investigation into the incident, after rejecting the conclusion by the FBI that it was behind the attack.
Malicious software in the Sony attack revealed links to malware previously used by North Koreans, the FBI said. The tools used also were similar to a cyber-attack in March 2013 against South Korean banks and media organizations.
South Korea says North Korea operates a unit of elite cyber-hackers to disrupt enemy networks in the event of war and steal information from foreign computers. South Korea believes North Korea is behind at least six cyber-attacks it has suffered since 2009. NDC yesterday repeated its denial that it was responsible for those attacks.