North Korea Internet outage was payback for Sony hack, U.S. official says

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Updated March 18, 2015 at 1:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- A U.S. official said the December Internet blackout in North Korea was a retaliatory strike after a data breach at Sony Pictures disrupted employee computers and disclosed confidential Sony information to the public.

Bloomberg reported Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said a December attack on North Korean Internet was payback for the Sony hack, but the U.S. official declined to identify the agency responsible for the retaliation.

McCaul made the unprecedented remark on Tuesday during an event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, but refrained from holding the U.S. government responsible for the outage of North Korea's Internet in 2014. Obama had said on Dec. 21 the attack on Sony was an "act of cybervandalism" that required a proportionate response.

On Dec. 21 and 22, for 10 hours, North Korea's Internet blacked out with thousands of computers unable to function. The outage took place not long after the Obama administration named the North Korean leadership as the leading suspect behind the hacking of Sony Pictures.

North Korea blamed Washington for the attack.

Bloomberg reported hackers cost the U.S. economy almost $400 billion a year.

On Tuesday the Senate Intelligence Committee released the text of a recently passed cybersecurity bill, the National Journal reported.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act is a direct response to the onslaught of data-breach incidents that not only affected Sony Pictures but also health insurance giants and website management companies.

The National Journal reported the bill has been expedited and will be reviewed in the U.S. Senate in April.

Privacy advocates, however, are concerned the bill will lead to a "real-time, 'insta-sharing'" of sensitive data with the NSA and will lead to heightened cyber surveillance.

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