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© Gawker
Electronics and media giant Sony was hacked last month by a group of hackers calling themselves the "Guardians of Peace" or GOP. The group claims they stole over 100 terabytes of data, which has been slowly trickling out via torrent peer-to-peer software. The data ranges from employee emails and personal information to financial and other proprietary data. A lot of it is pretty funny, here's a short list: The ensuing media circus comes at a time when the US is embroiled in a bitter culture war over the way police treat and interact with everyday people. President Obama played his part by announcing the beginning of 'normalization policy' towards Cuba, and he also came out and commented on the hack itself, making sure everyone knew about it one way or another. Both stories broke on the same day and seemingly flooded the airwaves. The talking heads rejoiced; the change in the subject from the previous two weeks of cops getting away with murder, the resulting civil unrest, and gruesome details revealing that the US government (aka CIA) tortured (or rather tortures) innocent people, was quite welcome.

The sad reality is that Eric Garner and Michael Brown's deaths are merely the tip of a huge iceberg, one in which police can bully, assault, kill and/or otherwise harass individuals who are either innocent of any wrong-doing or suspected of - at worst - minor, non-violent crimes. The system is designed to protect and serve these officers. The topic is being summarily dismissed by police union chiefs and other representatives of the establishment, because if these protests continue and real reform is actually implemented, they will lose a lot of the authority they have and be held accountable for criminal behavior - something they most definitely do not want.

Patrick Lynch
© Unknown
Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and a total nut job. His commentary would be funny if it wasn't taken so seriously by the NYPD.
Patrick Lynch, chief of the PAB or Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, blamed protesters and Mayor Bill de Blasio for the murder of two cops in Brooklyn this past Saturday. He has a history of being inflammatory and just plain crazy, so these recent comments shouldn't come as much surprise.
"There's blood on many hands," Lynch said, according to a video on the union's website. "Those that incited violence on this street under the guise of protests, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day."

"That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor," he said.

Such heated rhetoric isn't unique to Lynch, said Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant and former police officer who has worked with police unions in 25 states.
The NYPD has also circulated an email letting officers know it is now in 'wartime'. This changes some of their policies and procedures:
"At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending, or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be," an e-mail widely circulated among cops advised Saturday night.

Doubling the number of cops responding to even minor 911 calls would effectively cut in half the NYPD's patrol strength.

The memo also pointed to potential slowdowns in arrest and ticketing activity: "IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest," the statement said.

"These are precautions that were taken in the 1970s when police officers were ambushed and executed on a regular basis," the statement added.

"We have, for the first time in a number of years, become a 'wartime' Police Department," the message concluded. "We will act accordingly. FORWARD MESSAGE IN ITS ENTIRETY TO ANY AND ALL [members of the service.]"
No arrests unless absolutely necessary? That sounds pretty good. Although, it also suggests that NYPD routinely arrests people when it is not absolutely necessary. In fact, it's positively scary when we consider that it could also mean "don't bother making arrests: just shoot suspects." One has to wonder, if two cops getting killed is enough to elicit this kind of reaction, then why not the deaths of Eric Garner, or Akai Gurley? Where's the internal outrage over their deaths? Those are only two of the most well-known cases where NYPD officers have killed people in New York City this year; they're by no means the only ones. When a black man is killed by the police, no one bats an eye; when an officer gets gunned down, everyone loses their minds.

I'm in no way advocating violence against the police here, or trying to suggest 'they deserved it' - that's not it at all. The point I'd like to make is that everyone deserves equal consideration before their lives are summarily taken. The murder of these two officers was solely the fault of the individual who pulled the trigger. To use their deaths as a rallying call to shut down free speech and legitimate popular demand for police reform is not only revolting and dishonorable, it's the lowest form of authoritarian bullshit one can conjure.

As regards this 'North Korea movie stunt', it's looking a lot like the Korean government had nothing to do with the Sony hack after all - that allegation is based on flimsiest of evidence (that the malware and IP addresses used had been previously connected to North Korea, according to the FBI anyway. And the FBI never lies, right?)
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© Dan Tentler
Security Consultant Dan Tentler was able to brush aside the 'evidence' with three short sentences.
The strongest suggestion that North Korea was not behind the attack comes from Marc Rogers, a world-renowned hacker and DEFCON organizer. His article outlines a few simple reasons why it could just as easily have been a disgruntled ex-employee:
"It's clear from the hard-coded paths and passwords in the malware that whoever wrote it had extensive knowledge of Sony's internal architecture and access to key passwords. While it's plausible that an attacker could have built up this knowledge over time and then used it to make the malware, Occam's razor suggests the simpler explanation of an insider. It also fits with the pure revenge tact that this started out as.

"Whoever did this is in it for revenge. The info and access they had could have easily been used to cash out, yet, instead, they are making every effort to burn Sony down.

"The attackers only latched onto "The Interview" after the media did - the film was never mentioned by GOP right at the start of their campaign.

"Whoever is doing this is VERY net and social media savvy. That, and the sophistication of the operation, do not match with the profile of DPRK up until now.

"Blaming North Korea is the easy way out for a number of folks, including the security vendors and Sony management who are under the microscope for this. Let's face it - most of today's so-called "cutting edge" security defenses are either so specific, or so brittle, that they really don't offer much meaningful protection against a sophisticated attacker or group of attackers. "
The most obvious hint that North Korea wasn't the perpetrator of the attack is that it's association with The Interview only came after the media began making that assumption. The Koreans do appear to have made formal statements criticizing the movie earlier this year, which is understandable given the US government's track record of butchering leaders of foreign governments they don't like. But they also deny any involvement in the hack and have extended an olive branch by offering a joint investigation into the matter.

So what we could have here is a revenge plot against Sony from someone with an ax to grind, likely a prior employee who had access and knowledge of the internal network and could exploit any gaps in its security protocols. But then, the timing of the attack was oh so convenient to the Powers That Be: shifting the blame to North Korea allowed them to demonize an external enemy, and rally desperately-needed popular support (albeit of the most fickle kind) at a time when a massive protest movement across the US is threatening to develop into a revolution.

It's also a windfall for Sony, of course. By maintaining that the attack was associated with The Interview, their decision to pull the film from theaters basically ensured that most red-blooded 'Muricans' would feel a patriotic duty to see the movie. As such, it was no surprise to me when the film was released online Christmas eve and my Facebook feed lit up with the news. You can't buy that kind of public exposure for a movie, especially one that was described by Sony executives themselves as "desperately unfunny".

Anytime we have a major 'event' in the media, it behooves us to ask questions and to not accept the given explanation. This recent spat is just another in a long list where the official story is obviously inaccurate and clearly designed to benefit the major power players, at our expense. Meanwhile, the potential consequence of the recent assassinations of police officers is foreboding. The cops have already started making mass arrests of people they say "made online threats to kill police officers." How long before they start rounding up anyone suspected of participating in anti-police brutality protests? Or even just sympathizing with the protesters? It is "war-time", after all, so anyone caught 'aiding and abetting the enemy' can be deemed an 'enemy of the state'. Oh boy, 2015 is gonna be interesting. Welcome to burgeoning police state USA.