John McCain North Korea Security

Obama’s Fault

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By all accounts, Sony Pictures operated an unimaginably-vulnerable network where passwords were stored in a plain text file titled “passwords” but, according to Senator John McCain, it’s not Sony’s fault that their system was compromised.

It’s Obama’s fault.

“By effectively yielding to aggressive acts of cyber-terrorism by North Korea, that decision sets a troubling precedent that will only empower and embolden bad actors to use cyber as an offensive weapon even more aggressively in the future,” McCain said in a statement on Thursday.

“But, make no mistake. The need for Sony Pictures to make that decision ultimately arose from the Administration’s continuing failure to satisfactorily address the use of cyber weapons by our nation’s enemies,” he added.

Calling the processes used by the Guardians of Peace a “cyber weapon” is a bit of a stretch. There’s also very little any administration could have done to stop it. The responsibility lies solely with Sony and Sony Pictures.

Furthermore, the Guardians of Peace are a non-state actor. There have been reports and implications that North Korea was somehow involved, but it’s not entirely clear how and to what extent.

It would be easy to dismiss the entire incident and make a joke about Seth Rogen films, but John McCain is at least partially right.

While he wrongly accuses the Obama administration of being ultimately responsible, it does raise questions about our ability to counter threats in cyberspace. And the ironic thing is that some of those who are raising questions right now are those who seemingly believe any action taken by the intelligence community or the Department of Defense to counter cyber threats is the stuff of Skynet or 1984.

Last year Edward Snowden leaked a document showing that the intelligence community had prepared a list of potential cyber threats and drawn up plans to deal with them. Hairs were split and heads exploded.

Sony is responsible for safeguarding their own network, but the state could be left vulnerable to attack because some people are worried that the NSA is reading their Facebook page.

  • bphoon

    I have a problem with companies (or individuals, for that matter) folding as soon as some asshat raises a stink and makes some sort of threat against some perceived slight.

    Example: Some years ago, maybe 2002 or ’03, Rachel Ray appeared in a print ad for Dunkin Donuts wearing a scarf that, as she wore it, looked like it might have a hounds tooth pattern and looked something like a keffiyeh. Michelle Malkin–in typical fashion–went off the deep end without some much as a cursory fact check and started calling it a “terrorist scarf” and questioning whether Dunkin Donuts was cozying up to terrorists. Quicker than you could say “What the fuck, Michelle?” Dunkin pulled the ad. Didn’t explain that it was just a print ad for donuts, didn’t explain (until later) that the scarf was just a scarf in paisley print and didn’t call out Michelle Malkin for the hoople headed dipshit she is. Just pulled the ad. I was so disgusted with them that I haven’t done business with them since–and I used to like their donuts.

    Now we have Sony along with some theater chains so cowed by hollow threats from some anonymous hacker(s) that they meekly pull the release of a mulit-million dollar movie without, apparently, verifying whether these threats have any substance to them. Some indications are that the DPRK is involved in the hacking. If true, we have a situation where a rogue state actor engages in a massive act of cyber crime against a company simply because it doesn’t like some movie it made. Said company shows no resolve to exert its right to display any movie it wishes and call anonymous hackers’ bluff.

    The DPRK, if it is involved in this, is well known for making inflammatory claims and dire threats that it can’t hope to carry out. This “remember 9/11” thing, especially when applied to a string of movie theaters, has a hollow ring and, to me, constitutes just so much bullshit.

    I refuse to let some anonymous prick’s threats alter the way I conduct my life. I didn’t change a thing after 9/11 or after 3/11 or after Boston. In fact, these events made me want to do what I do even more–this brouhaha over The Interview made me want to go see it even more if for no other reason than to thumb my nose at whoever has the temerity to try to intimidate the American people. That so many have fallen for the hackers’ bullshit and allowed them to intimidate on such a scale is both dumbfounding and discouraging to me. I thought we were made of stouter stuff than this.

    Sony lost whatever respect I had for them. The movie chains have, too. Fuck them, I say, and fuck the hackers, too.

    • ninjaf

      Some of the movie chains were willing to show Team America in place of The Interview but Paramount put the kibosh on those plans, so some of the movie theaters even agreed with you.

      Sony made a business decision that, unfortunately, has broader implications than simply protecting their bottom line. But why should we expect a business to do anything other than protect its profits? Especially since 2008, we have codified that as part of the New American Way™, where patriotism is for suckers and broader ideals can take a hike. Capitalism FTW!

  • 1933john

    Foreign Born Confessor McCain,
    Pardoned by “I’m no criminal”
    Drunk Nixon, is full of his own
    horseshit. He has shown his
    lack of competence by crashing
    three Naval Aircraft, Treasonous
    Confession and, worst of all, in
    selecting that “Ditzy” VP.

  • ChrisAndersen

    Obama is a dictator when he acts.

    Obama is incompetent when he doesn’t.

    Rinse.

    Repeat.

  • trgahan

    “Sony is responsible for safeguarding their own network…”

    Yeah, almost sounds like Comrade McCain is advocating the Federal Government get involved in the affairs of a private enterprise. I mean, the “Free” Market supposedly solves all ills right? That’s why Republicans claim they want “small government.” And they always go on about how NOTHING is more efficient and effective than a private sector company. Unless that company is deficient in some way. Therefore being hacked is just the “Free” Market practicing creative destruction on Sony, right?

    I mean, if those arguments work for denying reduced cost lunches to children, it should work for Sony, right?

    • bphoon

      I mean, if those arguments work for denying reduced cost lunches to children, it should work for Sony, right?

      Assuming the right wing has any consistency at all in their arguments. Witness the right wing hoo-haa over the president’s initiative vis a vis Cuba versus their eagerness to expand our involvement with China because, you know, capitalism, or something…

      • trgahan

        Or that Cubans immigrants need the U.S. to help fight to free their nation, but the rest of the Hispanic world’s immigrants need to either STFU and get back to mowing our lawns and harvesting our food at the margins of our society OR go the hell back to their own damn nations regardless of the conditions they face there.

  • muselet

    McCain, who is a lock to lead the Senate Armed Services Committee next year, said he would establish a new subcommittee to look into cybersecurity issues and hold the administration’s feet to the fire.

    He also urged Congress to tackle the issue and “finally pass long-overdue comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.”

    Yeah, that’ll go swimmingly.

    I suspect something less than half the members of Congress could, given enough time and sufficient motivation, find the power switch on their office computers, and of those, perhaps a quarter could then suss out how to connect to the internet.

    John McCain’s Subcommittee on Protecting The Homeland™ from Cyber-Baddies will plumb new depths of uselessness.

    –alopecia

    • JMAshby

      My thoughts as well. Describing a trojan virus as a “cyber weapon” as if it’s some doomsday device was the first clue.

  • Scopedog

    “And the ironic thing is that some of those who are raising questions right now are those who seemingly believe any action taken by the intelligence community or the Department of Defense to counter cyber threats is the stuff of Skynet or 1984.”

    Yep. And when it came to the Sony hack, the first thing they did was focus on the e-mails and all the juicy gossip that resulted from that (or they were quick to post up leaked scripts and movies). Of course, they showed zero concern for the employees of Sony Pictures, who have been affected by this breach.

  • I’m pretty sure McCain’s point was that if North Korea was a cloud of radioactive vapor, then they couldn’t have hacked anyone. Thanks Obama!

    Or is it just me?

    It was refreshing to see the old John McCain briefly a couple of weeks ago when the torture report came out.