North Korea, as had been suspected, was behind the massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the United States government has concluded.
According to a report Wednesday on the Wall Street Journal website, a secret intelligence division within the North Korean General Bureau of Reconnaissance known as "Unit 121" planned and carried out the hack that has embarrassed Sony executives, leaked confidential files, and exposed private information about even low-level Sony employees.
The same secret Unit 121 has been responsible for previous cyber attacks against systems inside North Korea's bitter rival, South Korea, according to inside U.S. sources, the Journal reported.
The U.S. government was expected to wait until Thursday to make an official announcement of its conclusions about the perpetrators of the Sony hack. As of Wednesday evening, United States investigators were continuing to assemble their case against the government of North Korea.
Sony apparently folded when the hacking group -- or someone claiming to represent the hackers who call themselves "Guardians of Peace" -- posted an online message implying that terrorist attacks would be carried out against theaters screening the Sony-backed comedy film The Interview, in which a bumbling talk show host and his producer, played by James Franco and Seth Rogen respectively, assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un at the behest of the CIA.
Sony then canceled the release of the picture, setting off anger throughout the Hollywood community. Read the Inquisitr story on the cancellation of The Interview at this link.
An investigation by a private cyber-security expert last week concluded that the attack was carried out by a sub-contractor hired by the government of North Korea. The group known as "DarkSeoul," amazingly, carried out the attack from the WiFi network at the five-star St. Regis Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, the private expert concluded.
How "DarkSeoul" ties in with Unit 121 -- if, in fact, there is any tie -- is not yet clear.
The cyber attack on Sony Pictures is the second destructive hack by a foreign power against a private U.S. corporation in the past year. According to Slate Magazine military correspondent Fred Kaplan, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which owns the Sands, Venetian, and Palazzo hotels and casino operations in Las Vegas, was hit with a cyber attack that ultimately cost the company $40 million to repair.
That attack reportedly came from Iran after conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands, gave a speech urging the U.S. to launch a nuclear strike against Iran.
In the meantime, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the government is taking the Sony cyber attack seriously, and that Americans should simply "go to the movies" without fear.