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Hither and Yon

Many motives for the cyber-attack on ‘The Interview’

Special to WorldTribune.com
By Donald Kirk, East-Asia-Intel.com
Maybe we should all be thankful. No harm done in this Sony/North Korea flap; just a war of words. A torrent of them, in fact, but so far no fatalities, no injuries, merely hurt feelings, stunned outrage, routine mass media sturm and drang.
Ok, sound and fury, signifying nothing or not that much? Actually, I’m outraged too. Damn, I was gonna put this flick on my definite to-do list for Christmas. Normally, I don’t like movies much, having spent too much time watching stuff that turned out to be terrible bores. I would have consigned this film to that category were it not for all the hullabaloo.
One thing is for sure, though. The ruckus over ”The Interview” does beat the alternative — a real shooting war. Regardless of the wisdom of canceling the release of the film, we can be totally sure of one thing. We haven’t seen anything yet. Look for countries and internet whiz kids with a lot more smarts than the North Koreans to be sabotaging sacrosanct systems, corporate, government, and the military, all over the place. Cyber-war is a fact we have to deal with. We knew that all along, after Eric Snowden’s revelations of all the U.S. was up to monitoring everyone’s email, but this mini-crisis confirms our worst suspicions.
As a habitual Internet user with only the most rudimentary knowledge of how to use my laptop, however, I do have some serious issues. If these cyber-warriors and hackers are so smart, how come nobody’s thought of how to get rid of all the messages I keep getting from some guy in Nigeria who thinks I might want to bite on his offer of tens of millions of dollars as my share of the proceeds of his late uncle’s will? And what about all these messages from female names like Samantha and Kimberly and Chantilly offering friendship and more for the holiday season. How about getting in to the origin of all these messages and getting rid of them?
No doubt decades or generations hence someone will have figured out how to trace all messages to their source, to expunge them along with their perpetrators and possibly transmit poisonous substances and electronic shocks from one computer to another. Sound beyond the imagination? Sure, but who imagined the power of the internet two or three decades ago.
Maybe we can all trace our introduction to that mysterious system of instant communication. I got on to the Internet in the late 1990s when an editor said bluntly, no, he would no longer accept articles sent by fax. He was not asking clerks and secretaries in the office to punch my stuff into the system. Reluctantly, I had to yield to his demand. It was the Internet or nothing.
If so many scam artists and far-out opinionated idiots can exploit the Internet for their own nefarious purposes, it was inevitable that intelligence agencies would not be far behind. Surely the brains in Silicon Valley should be able to outwit a bunch of North Koreans. These guys may be extremely smart, but were they raised on the Internet culture and can they possibly be more sophisticated than the people who invented the whole phenomenon and now rank as multi-billionaires many times over?
In the meantime, theories abound as to who really got into the Sony system. Here’s one that some readers might like: It was all a South Korean plot. They’re the ones who did the damage, and they’re trying to pin the blame on the North Koreans. Seriously, some nut has actually said just that. He’s written at great length on a website that carries a lot of Korean stuff. No point in arguing with this guy. He loves for people to disagree with him. Then he responds with a barrage of insults. Stay away from him. Let him rant.
You do have to give the North Koreans some credit, though, for their eagerness to get away with the perfect crime. Think of the sinking of the Cheonan. North Korea to this day denies the slightest role in an episode that it blames on American trickery. Would you believe some people still accept the North Korean view? Never mind the highly detailed investigation of the tragedy. All nonsense, fabrication, say the nay-sayers.
We may be sure people will be saying the same about the penetration of the Sony system. We’ll be hearing plot theories forever about who did it, how they did it — maybe the CIA did it, goes one scenario, in a dastardly effort to embarrass the North Koreans. And the media is already saying, quite definitively, that the U.S. was responsible for the North Korean Internet going down.
Could be. In fact, I’d like to think the CIA, FBI and others were really capable of wreaking that sort of revenge on the North Koreans. Don’t, however, be too sure. Maybe the North Koreans took down their own system for a few hours so everyone would blame the Americans. Hey, in this game of cyber-warfare, all theories are valid and probably true, if not now, then next year and for many years to come.

Donald Kirk is still wrestling with the intricacies of the Internet and email after decades pounding away on portable typewriters. He’s at kirkdon@yahoo.com.
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