Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Sony Hack (cont.): Dirty Russkies?

IdiotsMy Russian wife, who thinks her countrymen were behind the Sony hack, finds support in The New York Times. (Alternate theory: It’s an inside job by a disgruntled ex-employee.)

On Wednesday, one alternate theory emerged. Computational linguists at Taia Global, a cybersecurity consultancy, performed a linguistic analysis of the hackers’ online messages — which were all written in imperfect English — and concluded that based on translation errors and phrasing, the attackers are more likely to be Russian speakers than Korean speakers.

Such linguistic analysis is hardly foolproof. But the practice, known as stylometry, has been used to contest the authors behind some of history’s most disputed documents, from Shakespearean sonnets to the Federalist Papers.

Shlomo Argamon, Taia’s Global’s chief scientist, said in an interview Wednesday that the research was not a quantitative, computer analysis. Mr. Argamon said he and a team of linguists had mined hackers’ messages for phrases that are not normally used in English and found 20 in total. Korean, Mandarin, Russian and German linguists then conducted literal word-for-word translations of those phrases in each language. Of the 20, 15 appeared to be literal Russian translations, nine were Korean and none matched Mandarin or German phrases.

Mr. Argamon’s team performed a second test of cases where hackers used incorrect English grammar. They asked the same linguists if five of those constructions were valid in their own language. Three of the constructions were consistent with Russian; only one was a valid Korean construction.

“Korea is still a possibility, but it’s much less likely than Russia,” Mr. Argamon said of his findings.


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Sacred War: Sony and North Korea

It’s interesting that North Korea’s official propaganda site still hasn’t gloated about Sony’s capitulation. As best I can tell, Korean Central News Agency hasn’t reported on the hack since Dec. 7, when it denied Pyongyang was responsible. But what does it say about U.S. cyber security when a country that doesn’t even allow the Internet is able to penetrate a private corporation’s computer network with ease? KCNA’s website is based in Japan; how can a country incapable of hosting its own official website steal every closely guarded trade secret from a major media company? My wife, who is Russian, thinks her countrymen were involved. I say it’s China, which adores its tantrum-throwing little brother.

Here’s a quote from KCNA’s statement on the 7th.

The south Korean puppet group [i.e., the South Korean government] went the lengths of floating the false rumor that the north was involved in the hacking that happened in the U.S., a country far across the ocean.

It should be well aware that it can not evade the severe punishment by the anti-U.S. sacred war to be staged all over the world if it blindly curries favor with the U.S. as now.

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