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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

US Govt IDs North Korea in Sony Cyber Terror Attack

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The U.S. government has linked North Korea to the cyber terror siege of Sony Pictures Entertainment. But the massive cyber attack that nixed the entire release of an new comedy film appears to have also cowed the American entertainment industry.

By pulling “The Interview” from circulation, Sony could lose as much as $100 million, according to a report in Business Insider\.

The movie, which depicts an assassination attempt on the life of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, outraged that country. North Korea demanded during the production phase that the U.S. government cancel the movie. That did not happen; in fact, two White House officials had actually approved the plot line before the comedy went to production.

Once the hacker group “Guardians of Peace” followed up three weeks of a cyber siege with an actual physical terror threat, Hollywood went into a panic and so did the entire American entertainment industry.

First the Landmark Theater chain canceled its December 25 New York City premier of the film at the Sunshine Theater on the Lower East Side. Then four of the largest chains backed out of showing the movie altogether, comprising thousands of small theaters around the United States and Canada.

Unnamed U.S. government sources told NBC News that a “linkage to the North Korean government” had been found to prove it was “centrally involved” in the cyber attack.

And in a report published in The New York Times, bits of the evidence were pieced together. They showed how the hacker group was taking orders from North Korea, and how they carried out a previous similar attack against South Korea, using commercial tools routed via Bolivian servers last year. Similar tools were used in 2012 against Saudi Arabia.

Sony itself is also examining the possibility the hackers had inside help as well: the names of Sony servers and administrative credentials were used to allow the malware to spread across the company’s network.

Experts said the hack is “the first major attack on a U.S. company to use a highly destructive class of malicious software that is designed to make computer networks unable to operate,” Reuters reported.

The U.S. government seems to have signaled its de facto surrender to North Korea, the apparent patron behind the “Guardians of Peace.” U.S. media quoted senior government officials who said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea over the attack and threats that followed. No one would speak on the record, and officials said the White House had yet to decide how to respond.

Japan also has had something to say about the matter, because it is apparently engaged in delicate negotiations with North Korea over the return of its citizens kidnapped years ago.

U.S. national intelligence officials concluded the cyber attack was state-sponsored and “far more destructive than any seen before on American soil,” NYT reported. A senior administration official admitted the attack that began by wiping out the data on Sony’s corporate computers had become “a threat to the safety of Americans.”

Not only North Korea but hackers based in China, and sponsored by that government as well, have taken aim before at U.S. corporations. This latest attack, however, “was of a sophistication that a year ago we would have said was beyond the North’s capabilities,” the official told NYT.

Massive attacks aimed at the computer systems of the White House itself, as well as those of the State Department, and JPMorgan Chase banking system, have kept counter cyber terror officials busy. The first two attacks were tentatively attributed ultimately to Moscow; the latter is still a question mark.

But the ambiguous response by the White House to the most devastating cyber attack ever on a U.S.-based corporation has done nothing to reassure American citizens. Nor has it inspired confidence among U.S. allies, who are watching to see if, when and how the White House will respond to the attack, termed by some as an “act of war.”

Terror Threat Puts Kibosh on Sony’s NYC Film Release

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The threat of a possible terror attack put the kabash on a Sony Pictures Entertainment release across the United States of “The Interview,” a comedy depicting an assassination attempt on North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

Sony’s cancellation of the December 25 release followed a direct threat of terror from North Korea against theaters nationwide if they were to screen the movie, and against those who went to the theaters to see it. It came against the backdrop of a decision made by the studio’s largest theater affiliates in the United States and Canada not to show the film.

“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers,” Sony said.

North Korea’s leadership was outraged over plot of the movie, to the point that in June, Washington received demands from Pyongyang to nix the film. That did not happen, and in November a hacker group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” launched a massive cyber attack against Sony in retaliation for continuing with production of the movie.

At first diplomatic and cautious on the topic, within days Sony officials acknowledged that it appeared likely the North Korean government was be behind the attack. The ongoing siege of Sony Pictures involves increasing data dumps of sensitive personal and business information and threats of further similar “gifts.”

Following last week’s Los Angeles studio premier of the film, the threats took an even more ominous turn. The hackers vowed a 9/11-style attack on movie theaters across the U.S. that dared to screen “The Interview,” and moviegoers who chose to attend.

“Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” the hackers wrote in a long-winded warning posted on the internet. “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave,) the hackers added. Another dump of personal data files accompanied the warning, these linked to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Landmark Theaters’ Sunshine Cinema on New York City’s Lower East Side was the planned venue for the NYC studio premier for the film this coming Thursday evening. At midnight Tuesday night local time, Landmark was telling media that it still planned to continue with the premier as scheduled.

But New Yorkers awoke on Wednesday to the news that the East Coast premier for “The Interview” had been canceled by Landmark Theaters for the Big Apple. No explanation was given for the decision.

Just to be on the safe side, the film’s two co-stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco have scrapped their promotional tour for the film and canceled all public appearances.

But for Israelis who are either staying in New York or visiting the area for Hanukkah, terror threats are nothing new. In Israel all public venues are typically secured by armed individuals with military experience, trained to stop potential threats.

“Americans are not accustomed to such security measures,” which are accepted as a way of life and have saved countless lives in Israel, an IDF veteran told JewishPress.com on Wednesday, but requested his name not be used. “This may be the future there someday as well, but because of the numbers and the diversity of targets, security may become much more difficult.”

The FBI meanwhile has told media in a statement, “There is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.” Nevertheless, to its credit, Sony notified its associated theaters about the threat immediately and said they had the option of choosing not to screen the film.

New York Police Department officials were not willing to toss in the towel on the film, however. “We have been down this road before with other films, about [former Al Qaeda leader Osama] Bin Laden and others,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism John Miller told the New York Post. “We will be beefing up security anywhere there’s a marquee, with patrols, critical response vehicles and the Hercules teams.

Cyber Attacks Crippled Adelson’s Casino Firm because He Said ‘Bomb Iran’

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Cyber hackers crippled the computer network of the giant Las Vegas Sands Corp, headed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, to punish him for saying that Iran should be bombed if it cannot be stopped from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The attack occurred last February but was not publicized until BusinessWeek exposed it in its new edition dated next week.

Las Vegas Sands refused to comment.

The hackers sent Las Vegas Sands engineers scrambling to the casino floor underneath their offices to yank out network cords from computers.

Businessweek’s investigation of the cyber-attack revealed that Las Vegas Sands computer engineers concluded that attackers, who wiped out several hard drives with a malware virus, did not tap into the computer system to steal money but were carrying out an act of revenge for Adelson’s anti-Iran remarks at Yeshiva University in 2013. There are strong suspicions that the cyber attack originated in Iran.

In his remarks at the Yeshiva University panel discussion on “Will Jews Exist?” Adelson, an open supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and right-wing Republicans, said about Irene’s nuclear development:

What are we going to negotiate about? What I would say is, ‘Listen. You see that desert out there? I want to show you something.’

[After dropping a nuclear bomb on an Iranian desert,] “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded after  two weeks later and said that the American government “should slap these prating people in the mouth and crush their mouths.”

That was in October 2013.

Two months later, according to BusinessWeek, the hackers took action and attacked the Las Vegas Sands’ IT network, only the second known incident of trying to destroy a corporation. The other attack was last month on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The hackers continued their attacks last January when they attacked a huge slot machine casino and resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The malware attack wiped out data on computers and servers and erased hard drives.

The attack worsened in February, and the company was forced to disconnect its servers from the Internet to protect itself from worse damage, but there was no interference with activities of Las Vegas Sands hotel guests and casino players.

The hackers also hit Las Vegas Sands’ websites and posted images of flames on one of Sands’ American casinos and also posted a warning, “Encouraging the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, UNDER ANY CONDITION, is a Crime.”

They also left a personal message  for Adelson: “Damn A, Don’t let your tongue cut your throat.”

The attack on Las Vegas Sands was an act of war. Bringing a country to its knees can be done a lot more efficiently and without deaths by using cyber attacks instead of bombs.

Last month, the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures leaked company secrets and personal information, and security experts suspect the perpetrators are a group that is working for the North Korean regime, whose nuclear capacity could wipe out the West and which is working hand-in-hand with Iran.

North Korea might be upset at Sony for its new project called ”The Interview,” a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader.

North Korea would “mercilessly destroy anyone who dares hurt or attack the supreme leadership of the country, even a bit,” a government spokesman has stated.

 

 

 

IDF Checks for Terror Tunnel Threat in Northern Israel

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The rumors persist.

Residents in northern Israel remain deeply concerned that terrorists are digging tunnels under the border, preparing for a future attack.

Although the IDF doesn’t discuss it much, the military is not ignoring the problem, and is quietly monitoring activity along the border.

The question is, what’s happening underneath?

Last week (Tuesday, October 14) Syrian Islamist rebels blew up a government military post near Idlib by digging attack tunnels with UN equipment under the rocky terrain, Aljazeera reported.

As happened with Hamas terrorist use of United Nations facilities in Gaza this summer, the United Nations logo is clear seen on equipment used in the attack in a YouTube report posted by Aljazeera on the internet. The rebel group which identifies with Al Qaeda wiped out the army outpost, killing 60 Syrian soldiers and officers. The Arabic-language report showed preparations prior to the attack as well as its aftermath, and said it took 120 days to dig the tunnel.

The geological conditions are nearly identical to those on Israel’s northern border, and the incident made it clear that Hezbollah could – and might – do the same.

This summer, northern Israelis spoke of the possibility that Hezbollah was tunneling as well.

“I live in the house closest to the border, and from my window you can see everything happening on the other side in Lebanon,” said a resident in Zar’it, in August during an interview on Israel’s Channel 2 News Online.

“What I see scares me, and worries me very much. I can see concrete mixers working in secret. I feel, for more than two years now, digging sounds. My entire house moves and shakes, and it’s very disturbing.”

During the IDF’s 50-day counter terror Operation Protective Edge, the commander of the 769th Hiram Brigade addressed the issue in an interview with Channel 2 News, commenting, “The possibility of tunnels [also] disturbs me, along with other options that might exist here. Any reasonable person should put his eyes in his head and look south towards Gaza and say that if there are tunnels there, then all the more so there is this possibility here.”

Building the kind of complex tunnel network that was found in Gaza, however, takes years of work by a lot of people.

For the past two years Hezbollah was busy helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad combat the rebels in the civil war tearing apart his country. Prior to that they were re-arming following the 2006 Second Lebanon War with Israel. Who is helping them build tunnels?

Probably the North Koreans.

Hamas also made a deal with North Korea this year to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of weapons. Western intelligence sources said this summer the deal was sealed by a Lebanese middleman linked to Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists in eastern Beirut.

The North Koreans have been patrons of Hamas for years — and not only with weapons.

Apparently it was North Korea that taught Hamas how to build its network of tunnels under Gaza.

The Gazans may have had help from Hezbollah, but at best the Lebanese terrorists functioned as North Korean agents, providing secondhand knowhow at bargain basement prices.

Or perhaps Hamas went to Syria to learn the trade. Hamas had its political bureau in Damascus for years. Or they may have gone directly to Iran, the other North Korean partner.

According to a report on The National Interest website last month, North Korea has provided missiles and their technology to all four: Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah.

But now there’s even a bigger concern, according to Victor Cha, D.S. Song-KF Professor in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service, and Director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University, and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International studies.

Hamas to Buy N. Korean Weapons as Kerry Pledges $47 Million in Gaza Aid

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

I suppose the timing could be just coincidental.

The Telegraph reports that Hamas has may have already put down a down payment on a secret weapons and communications equipment deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Hamas needs the deal to replenish their weapon stockpiles emptied out from attacking Israel. They are also looking to buy new communications equipment to help better coordinate their attacks on Israel.

Keeping in mind that money is fungible and Hamas are experts at redirecting foreign aid, this report comes hard on the heels of the report that US Secretary of State John Kerry is sending $47 million to Gaza for humanitarian aid. $15 million of that aid has been earmarked for UNRWA. UNRWA schools have been used to store Hamas rockets, and UNRWA officials have even transferred rockets to Hamas.

So doing the math, $47 million in US aid to Gaza, is $47 million that Hamas doesn’t need to spend on its population, and that’s before before Hamas takes its cut.

With money like that flowing in, North Korea knows Hamas is good for the money.

Wouldn’t a direct wire transfer from the White House to Pyongyang have saved on the wire transfer fees?

North Korea to Indict 2 Detained Americans

Monday, June 30th, 2014

North Korea has announced it plans to indict two American citizens being held in custody for unspecified crimes.

In a four-sentence statement issued by state-controlled media, North Korea said Matthew Miller, 24, and Jeffrey Fowle, 56, two tourists, had been investigated for “perpetrating hostile acts” after entering the country. The country had evidence and testimony from both about their alleged actions, the statement said.

The two entered on separate tours with Miller’s arrest first announced on April 25, two weeks after his arrival.

According to Japan’s Kyodo News, quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Fowle was detained subsequently after arriving on a group tour in April, due to a Bible left in his hotel room.

The dates of the trials have not been announced, and it is expected to two may be forced into “confessions” of “criminal acts.” The State Department has updated its travel warnings, urging American citizens not to go to North Korea, pointing out the risk of arbitrary arrest and detention.

Denmark’s Boycott Bank Linked to North Korea-Iran Ballistic Missiles Sales

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

When JewishPress.com reported on Denmark’s Danske Bank’s “boycott” of Israel’s Bank HaPoalim, we pointed out the curious fact that Danske Bank actually doesn’t do any business at all with any Israeli bank, leading one to wonder about the motivations for their announced boycott.

You may now stop wondering.

David Goldman of Pajamas Media uncovered a 2009 Wikileaks cable in which it exposes that Danske Bank provided financial services to Tanchon, a North Korean company that sold ballistic missiles to Iran.

FOR DENMARK ONLY: — We previously raised with you in March 2006 our concern (REF L) that Tanchon Commercial Bank maintained a correspondent account with Den Danske Bank AS- Copenhagen. According to April 2009 Bankers Almanac information, Tanchon still maintains that account.

The US State Department had warned Danske Bank about their providing services to Tachnon in 2006, and the bank apparently chose to ignore it, despite the “legal and ethical” issues it raised.

Only in 2010, did Danske Bank state that it finally stopped doing business with Iran.

Nothing we’re aware of, about them not doing business anymore with North Korea.

Either way, so much for that moral high ground they were claiming.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/denmarks-boycott-bank-linked-to-north-korea-iran-ballistic-missiles-sales/2014/02/02/

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