White House Officials: North Korea Was "Centrally Involved" In Sony Hack

North Korea has gone on record denying involvement in a recent cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, and now White House officials are debating if they should go on record accusing the country's leader Kim Jong-un and his regime of what now amounts to an act of cyberterrorism. Following an investigation into the matter, it appears there's no question that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hack and subsequent threats against Americans, though confronting the culprit comes with certain consequences.

Let's back up a moment. The hack against Sony resulted in the theft of a wide range of data, everything from passport and other personally identifiable information regarding actors and actresses in Sony's database, to movie scripts and marketing materials. Assuming North Korea is responsible, the attack seems motivated by Sony's upcoming comedy "The Interview," which is about an assassination attempt against the North's leader Kim Jong-un.

More recently, the hackers sent a chilling message to Sony warning that if "The Interview" released on December 25 as planned, "the world will be full of fear." The note alluded to the type of violence seen on September 11, 2011 and warned Americans to stay away from theaters playing the movie.

The Interview

Sony subsequently cancelled the New York premiere of its movie, setting off a chain reaction in which the four largest theater chains -- Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, and Carmike Cinemas -- along with several smaller chains said they wouldn't show "The Interview." The movie is now officially cancelled for a Christmas Day release.

According to The New York Times, senior administration officials are now at odds over whether to publicly accuse North Korea. Some feel it's important to confront Kim Jong-un directly, while others say doing so would ignite the kind of dispute North Korea has wanted for some time now. There's also the question of how such an accusation would affect ongoing diplomatic negotiations for the return of Japanese citizens kidnapped several years ago.

U.S. officials may not be in a rush to decide as it continues to investigate the matter. While it seems clear that North Korea was involved in the attack, what isn't clear is whether the hackers had inside help from employees at Sony.