What do you call it when a foreign country conducts a massive cyberattack on U.S. soil, steals data such as personally identifiable information and movie scripts, and threatens the lives of Americans if a particular movie is played? An act of "cyber-vandalism," of course! That's the term President Barack Obama used to described North Korea's shenanigans against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which ultimately led to Sony canceling the Christmas Day debut of "The Interview," a far-fetched comedy involving an assassination attempt against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The White House weighed its options carefully when deciding whether or to not even publicly accuse North Korea of being involved in the cyberattack. Those opposed to pointing the finger at Kim Jong-un and his regime contend that it gives North Korea the conflict it's been looking for. It also risks interfering with negotiations to return Japanese hostages that were kidnapped several years ago.
It was a short-lived debate, and while the decision was made to implicate North Korea for its role, the president was very careful with his wording.
"No, I don't think it was an act of war," he told CNN's State of the Union show, according to Reuters. "I think it was an act of cyber-vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately."
Naturally North Korea is claiming innocence in all this and has offered to help find the real culprit. It's more of a Mafioso type offer -- you know, like the ones you can't refuse. A spokesman for North Korea warned that if the U.S. balks at its offer to conduct a joint investigation, "there will be grave consequences."
It's not yet clear how the U.S. will retaliate or when the retaliation will come. One of the options being discussed is to return North Korea to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Republican Senator John McCain wants to do more, such as restoring sanctions lifted by the Bush administration.
"This president does not understand that this is the manifestation of a new form of warfare...it's more than vandalism," McCain said.