Are we safe from Sony hack's malware?

Sony Pictures has been hit hard by a cyber-attack. The GCSB won’t say whether its Cortex cyber-defence shield would ...

Sony Pictures has been hit hard by a cyber-attack. The GCSB won’t say whether its Cortex cyber-defence shield would protect Kiwi organisations from a similar fate.

Spy agencies have declined to say whether New Zealand's Project Cortex cyber-defence system could block the type of the malware attack that has brought Sony Pictures to its knees.

The hacking attack on the Hollywood studio has been likened to the audacious Stuxnet attack on Iran's nuclear programme in terms of its impact on the cyber-security landscape.

Sony was hacked back to the days of clerks in the 19th Century, with computers permanently wiped and staff having to turn back to pen and paper following the attack on November 24.

Blockbuster movies Annie and Fury were leaked on to the internet before their cinema release and terabytes of company information appear to have been stolen.

Reuters reported the Sony hack was the first on a US company to use a destructive class of malicious software designed to incapacitate computer networks and the FBI issued a warning to US businesses on Monday.

Security agency sources in New Zealand said they believed the Sony attack would also bring home and "make real" the possible threats faced by organisations here.

The existence of the Cortex cyber-defence system was revealed by Prime Minister John Key ahead of Kim Dotcom's "moment of truth" in September.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) claimed British journalist Glen Greenwald mistook an early iteration of a component of Cortex, codenamed Speargun, for a "mass surveillance system", the existence of which has been denied by the agency and the Government.

Cortex is designed to protect government agencies and key infrastructure providers from overseas malware attacks. At least some elements of Cortex are understood to now be in use by some of those organisations, though the project is not due to be fully completed until 2016.

A GCSB spokesman would not say whether the defence system could have countered the attack on Sony. Its cost has also been kept secret. Only organisations that meet set criteria have the right to its protection.

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Reuters reported that the tools used in the attack on Sony were similar to ones deployed against South Korea by North Korea.

There has been speculation the hack may have been "revenge" for a Sony Pictures comedy, The Interview, the plot of which centred on a fictitious CIA attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

 - Stuff

Related Links

Sony denies North Korea report

Experts doubt NK behind hack

'Destructive' malware warning

Clean up after massive cyber attack


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