U.S. considers 'proportional' response to Sony hacking attack

Thu Dec 18, 2014 6:57pm EST
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By David Brunnstrom and Jim Finkle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday a cyber attack on Sony Pictures was a serious national security matter and the Obama administration was considering a proportional response, although the White House stopped short of blaming North Korea.

U.S. government sources said on Wednesday that investigators had determined the attack was "state sponsored" and that North Korea was the government involved.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he was not in a position to say that North Korea was responsible, but the investigation was "progressing." He said the attack was an example of "destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor."

Earnest said U.S. national security leaders "would be mindful of the fact that we need a proportional response." They were also aware that people carrying out such attacks are "often seeking to provoke a response," he said.

"They may believe that a response from us in one fashion or another would be advantageous to them" by enhancing their standing either among their cohorts or on the international stage, Earnest said.

He said the United States viewed the attack as "a serious national security matter" that President Barack Obama was monitoring very closely.

Hackers who said they were incensed by a film on the fictional assassination of North Korea's leader attacked Sony Corp last month, leaking documents that drew global headlines and distributing unreleased films on the Internet.

On Wednesday, Sony said it was canceling the Dec. 25 release of the offending movie, "The Interview," handing what appeared to be an unprecedented victory to Pyongyang and its abilities to wage cyber warfare.   Continued...

Sook, played by Diana Bang with Aaron, played by Seth Rogen and Dave played by James Franco in The Interview. REUTERS/Handout