Multiple media reports this afternoon cite an unidentified government source saying that U.S. intelligence experts now believe that the government of North Korea is “centrally involved” in the attack on Sony Pictures' computers. The attack originated outside North Korea, but by officials believe "the individuals behind it were acting on orders from the North Koreans."
"We have found linkage to the North Korean government," according to a U.S. government source, cited by NBC News. Senior administration officials said the White House was still debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea.
From the NYT story:
Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was still debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism campaign. Sony’s decision to cancel release of “The Interview” amounted to a capitulation to the threats sent out by hackers this week that they would launch attacks, perhaps on theaters themselves, if the movie was released.
Officials said it was not clear how the White House would decide to respond to NorthKorea. Some within the Obama administration argue that the government of Mr. Kim must be directly confronted, but that raises the question of what consequences the administration would threaten — or how much of its evidence it could make public without revealing details of how the United States was able to penetrate North Korean computer networks to trace the source of the hacking.
Others argue that a direct confrontation with the North over the threats to Sony and moviegoers might result in escalation, and give North Korea the kind of confrontation it often covets. Japan, for which Sony is an iconic corporate name, has argued that a public accusation could interfere with delicate diplomatic negotiations underway for the return of Japanese nationals kidnapped years ago.
The sudden urgency inside the administration over the Sony issue came after a new threat was delivered this week to desktop computers at Sony’s offices that if “The Interview” was released on Dec. 25, “the world will be full of fear.” It continued: “Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.”
Sony Pictures earlier today pulled "The Interview" from its scheduled Dec. 25 release in theaters in response to threats by hackers involved in a massive cyber attack on the studio's computers.