I don’t know if the North Korean government has anything to do with the Sony hack, though I seriously doubt it. I don’t know if the group connected to it has any ability to carry out real-world attacks, though I have even more doubts about that. I don’t know what the criminals calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace” think their end game is.
But I do know know posting a little text message to Pastebin.com just seemingly caused a couple of Hollywood stars to pull out of a press event. That’s remarkable.
It is the kind of asynchronous digital warfare that many experts have warned about for years. America stands to lose the most in cyberwar because we have the most targets, and we rely the most on technology. More to the point here, the Internet can act as an amazing lever, augmenting the power of a no-doubt-tiny protest group and its ability to wage a conflict against a giant corporation. As I’ve already written, when your goal is merely destruction and chaos, and your battleground is the Net, David has an advantage against Goliath.
A post allegedly from the “Guardians of Peace” left on Pastebin.com today threatened moviegoers who attend Sony’s upcoming film, “The Interview.”
“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” the message reads. The New York premiere of the the film is Thursday; it is slated to debut nationwide on Christmas.
The Department of Homeland Security told CNN there was no reason to believe U.S. movie theaters were under a specific threat. Of course not. Please remember: Anyone with a computer could post a note making a threat like that on Pastebin. But if even 5 percent of would-be consumers stay away — heck, if even 1 percent stay away — the hackers can claim some kind of victory. There is talk of theaters not showing the film, though that’s wildly premature. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible the publicity will be good for the box office, or at least for rental revenue later.
There’s a new playbook for computer hackers and the professionals who protect us from them. It has very little to do with coding skills, but everything to do with exploiting an enemy’s weakness.