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 1420

Theory emerges in Sony hacking suggesting Russian hackers

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Linguists identified foreign phrasing in about 2,000 words from hacker emails and posts that may have been penned by a Russian native speaker.

What if it wasn’t North Korea after all?

In the controversy over the Sony hacking, government officials have accused the sequestered communist country of hacking Sony, but security analysts argue Russian hackers may be the culprit.

Writing samples from hackers claiming responsibility for leaking finance reports and emails by Sony employees suggest the native language was Russian, according to Taia Global, a cyber security consulting group.

“Our preliminary results show that Sony’s attackers were most likely Russian, possibly but not likely Korean and definitely not Mandarin Chinese or German,” the Seattle-based company wrote in a Christmas Eve blog post.

Linguists analyzed about 1,600 words in strangely worded emails and posts by the “Guardians of Peace,” but the findings are not enough to conclude North Korea spawned the cyber attacks that started Nov. 24. KCNA/REUTERS Writing samples from the ‘Guardians of Peace’ hackers suggest a Russian speaker may be behind it all, but a Korean speaker is possible, too.

The emails are surprisingly plentiful, Taia Global

president Jeffrey Carr, said.

“Normally hackers don’t leave so many texts,” Carr told the Daily News in a brief phone call.

Phrases such as “our agents find themselves act in necessary places” and “is called by the greed of Sony” were compared to four major languages to detect the writer’s native language.

The majority of the phrasing could have been translated word for word from Russian, Shlomo Argamon, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, learned. KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/REUTERS The Sony hack job led to a series of emails being leaked to the public starting Nov. 24 before threats of violence were made regarding the release of Sony’s movie ‘The Interview.’

“The author(s) were writing in English, knew English words, but were not proficient. They did not make their meaning clear,” Argamon told the Daily News.

Argamon is also a scientist at Taia Global, but has been researching text for the past eight years to detect the author’s native language and age.

His study concludes it’s not impossible that the messages were written by a native Korean speaker, but it’s unlikely. 

Argamon’s study shows 15 out of 20 phrasings translated to English in the emails matched the Russian language. Nine matched Korean, but Mandarin and German is ruled out completely. Nick Ut/AP Despite the government’s announcement that North Korea is behind the Sony hacks, security analysts believe other forces such as Russian hackers may be at work.

The analysis is the same method used to show imprisoned UK killer Jamie Starbuck faked emails to his murdered wife’s family on her behalf for two years.

Though the findings do not completely rule North Korea out, it questions the US government’s recent vow to avenge cyber attacks perpetrated within the country over Sony’s release of “The Interview”.

Other theories detailed by the New York Times this week suggest any hacker could be responsible as long as they had an internet connection and basic hacking skills. 

Malware programmed using a Korean language setting may have been a red herring as well.

Or simply, it was an inside job by a disgruntled Sony employee with sizeable knowledge on the company’s servers and passwords, the Times added. [email protected]
Related Stories North Korea proposes joint investigation into Sony hacking North Korean Internet back, blackout lasts nearly 10 hours Russia offers support to North Korea amid hacking scandal


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