Evidence in Sony hack attack suggests possible involvement by Iran, China or Russia, intel source says

cyyber attackFox News, By Catherine Herridge, December 18, 2014

The U.S. investigation into the recent hacking attack at Sony Pictures Entertainment has turned up evidence that does not point to North Korea as the “sole entity” in the case, but rather, raises the possibility that Iran, China or Russia may have been involved, an intelligence source told Fox News on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Fox News confirmed that the FBI is pointing a digital finger at North Korea for the attack.

The source pointed to the sophistication of malware “modules or packets” that destroyed the Sony systems — on a level that has not been seen from North Korea in the past — but has been seen from Iran, China and Russia.

There is no evidence of a forced entry into the Sony systems, pointing to an insider threat or stolen credentials. And the first emails sent to Sony, described as blackmail or extortion, included demands unrelated to the movie.

The malware had two destructive threads, the source said: it overwrites data and it interrupts execution processes, such as a computer’s start-up functions. After the initial attack, the FBI warned the industry that the malware can be so destructive that the data is not recoverable or it is too costly a process to retrieve. The intelligence source added that the forensic evidence suggests that the final stage of the attack was launched outside North Korea’s borders — creating some plausible deniability.

“Given the destructive efforts or effects of this attack, we’re treating this as a national security matter, and as such, members of the president’s national security team have been in regular meetings regarding this attack,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Also, Fox News has learned that U.S. security firms were first notified Monday by the U.S. government that they planned to publicly blame North Korea, which is inconsistent with past practice, as the U.S. government often has chosen to work behind the scenes in similar instances.

The White House declined earlier Thursday to directly blame North Korea for the attack, though Press Secretary Josh Earnest referred to the incident as a “serious national security matter.”

The case is “being treated as seriously as you’d expect,” Earnest told reporters at an afternoon briefing. He added that the White House would allow the investigation to move forward before speculating about a response.

“There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor,” Earnest said. “And it is being treated by those investigative agencies both at the FBI and the Department of Justice as seriously as you would expect.”

The North Korean link came shortly after Sony canceled plans for its Dec. 25 release of “The Interview,” a comedy about the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  Getting Sony to pull the release of the movie had been one of the hackers’ public demands.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the attack originated outside North Korea, but believe the individuals behind it were acting on orders from the North Korean government.

While the U.S. government is unlikely to issue formal charges against North Korea or its leadership, a formal announcement of North Korea’s involvement is likely to come Thursday.

The Sony hack attack is “deeply worrying” to the intelligence community because it is believed to be the first time destructive malware has targeted a U.S. firm, according to the Fox News source, who added that the cyber assault is seen as “retribution” for “The Interview.”

Fox News is told that the malware used in the Sony hack attack has two destructive threads: it overwrites data and it interrupts execution processes, such as a computer’s start-up functions. The FBI warns that the malware can be so destructive that the data is not recoverable or it is too costly a process to retrieve.

It is not clear how long the malware needs to be in the system before it brings on an almost complete paralysis. In the case of Sony, support functions — including emails –were knocked off-line, seen as a distraction while the more destructive attack was launching.

This week North Korea’s state-run media KCNA endorsed the Sony hacking, saying it was done by “sympathizers.” Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea who writes a column for The Korea Times, says this is as close to an endorsement as possible.

Another expert noted “ambiguity of attribution and guerilla-warfare approach” are the tactics of North Korea. The expert concluded it will be seen that America is vulnerable to blackmail and North Korea will try it again.

Fox News has also been told, however, there was “zero” chance there would have been any actual attacks on theaters.”

“Sony was stupid to make a movie about killing Kim Jung-un,” Lankov said, “but it was even more stupid to cave in to pressure.”

A Steve Carell “paranoid” thriller “that was to be set in North Korea” also has been scrapped, sources say. The project from director Gore Verbinski and writer Steve Conrad wasn’t yet titled, though industry outlets said the working title was “Pyongyang,” which is the North Korean capital.

“Sad day for creative expression,” Carell tweeted Wednesday evening, adding “#fear eats the soul” as a hashtag.

In an interview with ABC News aired Wednesday, President Obama encouraged Americans to go to the movies.

The Sony hacking saga took a sinister turn on Tuesday when hackers sent a message threatening to target theaters showing “The Interview” in a 9/11-type attack.

Sony then told theaters they will not be penalized should they choose not to show it.

A representative for the FBI Los Angeles Field Office told FOX411 that the bureau is “aware of the recent threats and continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate.”

Security experts told Fox that in the wake of the Sydney siege and the release of the CIA enhanced interrogation report last week, it was crucial the threat be taken seriously by authorities.

“This threatening statement obviously has some foundation and may be linked to current global hostilities toward the West and predominantly the U.S.,” said Lee Oughton, global security and risk management expert. “We are still unaware how deep the hackers were able to penetrate into the Sony systems. Only time will tell how much information they were able to ascertain and what price Sony will pay in the international market.”

Actors James Franco and Seth Rogen already canceled all media appearances promoting their film.

Fox News’ Greg Palkot, Lucas Tomlinson, Hollie McKay and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Also see:


Watch and Share – Your Freedom of Speech is Under Attack

Brooke Goldstein at Lawfare Project has produced a very powerful video to raise awareness on the Islamic threat to free speech.


You can download the book, “Lawfare – the War Against Free Speech – A First Amendment Guide for Reporting in an Age of Islamist Warfare” by Brooke Goldstein and Aaron Eitan Meyer for free at http://www.thelawfareproject.org/

Benghazi bungle an attempt to advance Islam?

HillaryClinton32-273x275by Taylor Rose

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration may be trying to use the al-Qaida terror attacks on U.S. operations in Benghazi, Libya, to advance a growing global movement to protect Islam from criticism, according to one expert.

The issue is the “defamation of religions” resolution pending at the United Nations.  It was introduced by Islamic nations and coalitions to criminalize any negative reference to Islam or Muslims.

Clare Lopez, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Clarion Fund, said that after the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, the Obama administration made an impromptu decision to advance the Islamic agenda item it already had endorsed.

“The Obama administration, and especially the Department of State led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are coordinating closely with the [Organization of the Islamic Conference] to achieve implementation of U.N. Human Rights Commission Resolution 16/18, which despite some cosmetic wording changes, remains the vehicle through which the OIC is determined to work toward the criminalization of the criticism of Islam in U.S. law,” she said.

Her comments came at an Endowment for Middle East Truth panel discussion recently  concerning the OIC’s repeated demand to punish those who criticize Islam in U.N. member nations. The OIC is a coalition of 57 Islamic members, 56 states and the non-state Palestinian Authority.

After almost a decade of negotiations between the OIC and Western powers, the U.N. resolution no longer has specific references to blasphemy and Islam. It now has more generic language, with hate-speech style references.

The original Obama narrative on the Benghazi attack, quickly proven to be false, was that the violence was caused by a spontaneous crowd protesting an anti-Islam YouTube video called “Innocence of Muslims.”

Lopez said the Obama administration’s “stubborn adherence to the false narrative of the YouTube film, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ for so long after the 11 September 2012 attack on the Benghazi mission is inexplicable except in the context of a globally coordinated campaign through the OIC and U.S. Muslim Brotherhood affiliates to advance the anti-free speech agenda of U.N. Resolution 16/18.”

Lopez said the administration’s aim not only is to support the passage of U.N. Resolution 16/18 but to attempt to move Middle East policy in a direction that favors jihadist states.

“Official U. S. policy now is to assist al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadists to overthrow what have been termed ‘unfaithful Arab/Muslim rulers’ who failed to enforce Islamic law (shariah) … and to replace them with jihadist Muslim Brotherhood leadership that has pledged its commitment to re-establishment of the Caliphate and strict implementation of Shariah,” she said.

Lopez said the change in policy is a consequence of infiltration of Islamist operatives in the United States government.

“It is likely that such drastic and detrimental changes to U.S. national security strategy can be attributed at least in part to the extensive infiltration of MB operatives as advisers and appointees within the Obama administration and throughout cabinet departments … and on down even to local law enforcement levels,” she said.

She said the OIC “is determined to work towards the criminalization of the criticism of Islam in U.S. law.”

While she said the First Amendment is posing a stumbling block, she believes the OIC and Obama will expand on existing law that possesses broad language allowing for various interpretations.

“One of the tactics they appear to be considering is seeking to expand upon already-existing U.S. law that prohibits ‘imminent incitement to violence’ to impose a so-called ‘test of consequences’ on speech by American citizens,” she said.

She elaborates on the strategy by clarifying that “while currently the law stipulates that the actual content of the speech must include an explicit incitement to violence, the ‘test of consequences’ would instead assign a post ipso facto charge of guilt against someone who neither spoke nor intended ‘imminent violence’ and perhaps spoke only truth – but whose speech was interpreted at some time and place in the world by someone as ‘offensive’ and who then used that entirely subjective feeling of ‘offense’ as an excuse to go out and commit violence.”

Read more at WND

DoJ official refuses to denounce demands for Saudi-style blasphemy law

By  at Daily Caller:

President Barack Obama’s top civil rights official repeatedly declined to support religious free speech during a July 27 congressional hearing, despite repeated questioning from Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who chairs the House’s constitution subcommittee.

Tom Perez, the progressive who runs the Justice Department’s civil rights office, refused to answer the questions posed by Franks.

“Will you tell us… that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?” Frank asked four times.

Perez refused to answer, saying “it is a hard question, in the sense that when you make threats against someone.” Perez then suggested he would respond to draft legislation from the committee, but again refused to answer Frank’s question about free speech rights.

Franks’ questions were prompted by an October 2011 Daily Caller report, which described a D.C. meeting between Perez and hardcore Islamists, including Mohamed Magid, the Sudan-born, Saudi-trained head of the Islamic Society of North America.

At the end of the public meeting, Perez called more meetings with the Islamists, even though he had watched while Magid called for legal punishment of people who criticize Islamic texts that call for violence against non-Muslims and for the subordination of women to men.

In 2009 a federal judge approved the FBI’s decision to describe the society as an co-conspirator of a group that was convicted of smuggling money to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’ affiliate in Palestine. Hamas has repeatedly funded, supported and endorsed attacks on Jews.


See The Counter Jihad Report page on

The Threat To Free Speech