As the FBI confirmed the cyber attack, President Obama said it was a mistake to pull The Interview from theaters

By Michael Miller
Updated December 19, 2014 05:05 PM
Credit: Zuma

Well, it’s official.

The North Korean government was behind the Sony hack, according to a statement released by the FBI on Friday. And President Obama isn’t happy about it.

“There is now enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions,” the bureau said in a statement – confirming similar reports from U.S. officials on Wednesday.

“North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves and seek economic and social prosperity,” the FBI statement said. “Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.”

The hack was allegedly in response to Seth Rogen and James Franco‘s new film The Interview, and exposed private information including Sony employee salaries and emails. A group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace claimed responsibility, and followed the virtual attack with threats of physical violence if the movie, which depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, was released as scheduled on Dec. 25.

Sony announced Wednesday that it was canceling the release of the film, and on Friday President Obama said in a press conference that the company had “made a mistake” in doing so, adding, “I wish they talked to me first.”

The FBI painstakingly traced the hack to North Korea through analysis of the malware, Internet protocol addresses and techniques used in the attack. “There were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data detection methods, and compromised networks,” the bureau reports.

In addition, “the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”

While the FBI made no mention of U.S. retaliation for the attack, President Obama said, “We will respond, we will respond proportionally, and in a place and time that we choose.”

He emphasized the seriousness of the attack, saying, “If somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary they don’t like, or news reports they don’t like.”

He continued: “Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others started engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.”

North Korea has been silent on the attack, despite initially denying involvement.