About all I can say is WOW. Earlier this month, I mentioned that Sony didn’t have the best security practices as evidenced by some of the information leaking out after the large hack. And to see what came out, we are seeing full movies, scripts, emails, salary information, contracts, etc. An absolute mess for Sony, to be sure, but one left to the digital/virtual world. But now it seems that the culprit really is North Korea, as had been suspected, and their target was the movie (“The Interview”) they thought disparaged their “great leader” (Ok, it does disparage him, but it’s a comedy, it’s supposed to). Not satisfied with just attacking Sony’s digital infrastructure, they are threatening to bomb theaters that show the movie. And now Sony has announced they are cancelling the release completely.
This marks the first time, at least in a more general way, that a digital attack has been directly linked to a physical threat. Not only did the attack fully take control of the digital infrastructure and cause major damage, but it was then followed by a physical threat, one tied to specific actions with, if followed up on, dire consequences. And, maybe the most important thing here, is that they succeeded in getting what they wanted — the picture won’t be released and shown (at least not for quite a while, anyway).
Now of course they could have made the threat without the digital attack, but it may not have carried the same weight, given all the press the breach has brought. The real downside to all this, since it is unlikely anyone will take direct action against North Korea for the digital attack and there hasn’t been (and since the movie is cancelled, shouldn’t be an opportunity) a physical attack (assuming they actually could carry such an attack out), is that it shows a possible way for dissident groups (think Anonymous or similar) to try and get their way. Cause a major breach on someone they don’t like, and then threaten if they don’t do something more, they will bomb them. How long before someone actually follows through? What happens when the threat comes from someone like ISIS, or Iran, or even Russia?
We may be seeing a very uncomfortable convergence between digital violence and physical threats that hasn’t existed (at least on a large scale). Not a very pleasant thought.