FBI Warns Hackers Behind Sony Attack Now Taking Aim At News Organizations

Sony is still trying to recover from a crippling hack that rocked its corporate networks in late November. Then attacks, which were carried out due to the planned release of the movie The Interview, resulted in leaked personal information, leaked emails and memos, threats against Sony employees and the families, and threats against movie theaters that attempted to show the film.

Despite the threats, Sony ended up releasing the movie in theaters — with a much smaller rollout the initially planned — and online with impressive results.

While the publicity and news coverage of the Sony hack is dying down as we enter 2015, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) out of an abundance of caution is warning that Guardians of Peace (#GOP), the group behind the Sony hack, could be planning to attack news organizations. In a Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB) dated December 24 [PDF], Sony, which is named as USPER1, is mentioned along with USPER2, a “news media organization” that has received threats from #GOP.


The JIB goes on to state that “The FBI and DHS [will] assist federal, state, and local government cyber, counterterrorism, and law enforcement officials, first responders, and private sector security partners in effectively deterring, preventing, preempting, or responding to cyber and terrorist attacks against the United States.”

Also found in the JIB is evidence that #GOP has “specifically taunted the FBI and USPER2 for the ‘quality’ of their investigations and implied an additional threat.”

Fox News was able to prod an FBI spokesperson for more information regarding the JIB, with the official stating, “As part of our ongoing public-private partnerships, the FBI and DHS routinely share information with the private sector and law enforcement community.

"The FBI and DHS are not aware of any specific credible information indicating a threat to entertainment or news organizations, however, out of an abundance of caution, we will continue to disseminate relevant information observed during the course of our investigations."

The Interview’s plot revolves around the assassination of dictator King Jong-un, which led the FBI and President Obama to finger the North Korean government for sponsoring the attack. However, in recent days, it has been revealed that #GOP may have received assistance from Lizard Squad in gaining access to Sony’s computer network. In addition, cyber intelligence firm Norse questions whether North Korea masterminded the attack; its findings indicate that the breach was a result of either a disgruntled employee or hacker groups tied to piracy rings (or a combination of both).

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“When the FBI made the announcement so soon after the initial hack was unveiled, everyone in the [cyber] intelligence community kind of raised their eyebrows at it, because it’s really hard to pin this on anyone within days of the attack,” said Kurt Stammberger, Senior Vice President at Norse.