US rejects North Korea offer to investigate Sony hack, reaches out to China

US stands firm in its allegations that North Korea was responsible for hack

The U.S. has rejected North Korea's proposal for a joint investigation of a devastating hack on Sony Pictures, and has reached out to China for help blocking future cyberattacks.

North Korea Saturday denied U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation allegations that it was responsible for the Sony hack, and proposed a joint investigation into the incident with the U.S. The U.S., however, is standing firm in its allegations.

"The government of North Korea has a long history of denying responsibility for destructive and provocative actions," according to a statement from White House National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh. "If the North Korean government wants to help, they can admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages this attack caused," according to the statement, cited in published reports Saturday.

The U.S. has reached out to China recently to help block North Koreas ability to launch cyberattacks in the future, according to a report in the New York Times.

"What we are looking for is a blocking action, something that would cripple their efforts to carry out attacks," according to an unnamed official quotes in the story. So far however, China has not responded, according to the report.

One likely reason the U.S. has sought China's help is that North Korean telecommunications are run through Chinese-operated networks, the Times noted.

After a two-week investigation, the FBI said Friday that North Korea was responsible for the cyberattack on Sony Pictures. The breach of Sony's network, which occurred in late November, involved financial documents, executive emails, legal and business agreements as well as personal employee information. Leaks of the emails online have embarrassed Sony.

The FBI pointed out similarities between malware used in the Sony hack and cybertools used in prior attacks attributed to North Korea.

Sony decided earlier this week to cancel the release of "The Interview," a movie about reporters on a mission to kill the leader of North Korea. The hackers threatened reprisals if the movie was released.

President Obama said the U.S. is prepared to respond "proportionally" to the attack, and said his staff was preparing various options. The overture to China was likely part of that response.

In its statement Saturday, North Korea warned that the U.S. would face "serious consequences" if it rejects its proposal for a joint investigation and goes ahead with countermeasures.

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Marc Ferranti

IDG News Service
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