WATCH ABOVE: U.S. stands by conclusion that North Korea is responsible for Sony Pictures cyber-attack
TORONTO – As the investigation into last month’s unprecedented cyber-attack on Sony Pictures continues, several new reports have cast doubt on North Korea’s connection to the hacking scandal.
According to a new report from Reuters, U.S. investigators now believe North Korea may have hired additional hackers outside of the country to help attack Sony. The report quotes “an official close to the investigation.”
WATCH ABOVE: FBI agents working on the Sony hack were briefed by a private cyber security firm that says North Korea is not behind the attack. But so far federal investigators aren’t budging in their blame of North Korea. Don Champion tells us who some cyber experts say is responsible.
A separate report from CBS News reveals FBI investigators spent over two hours meeting with representatives from Norse – a Silicon Valley based cyber security firm – who suggested North Korea was used as a decoy by hackers.
TIMELINE: How the Sony hacking scandal unfolded
Security researchers instead allege they have found evidence that may point towards an ex-Sony employee.
The FBI formally accused the North Korean government of hacking Sony Pictures on December 19.
However, U.S. officials haven’t changed their tune in light of recent reports stating, “We are confident that North Korea is responsible for this destructive attack.”
After Sony was hacked, investigators analyzed network logs, the hacking tool and the remains of their crippled network. The investigation began after the attackers announced themselves and wiped the systems by crippling Sony’s hard drives.
READ MORE: Who hacked Sony becomes Internet’s new mystery
Security professionals discovered that the hackers had been conducting surveillance on Sony’s network since the spring.
If not for the theatrics of the Guardians of Peace, as the hackers call themselves, the breach could have easily continued for months without knowledge of the compromise.
But because North Korea is so isolated and its Internet infrastructure is not directly connected to the outside world, it’s more difficult to trace attacks originating there.
Is there a connection between the PlayStation hackers and Sony Pictures hackers?
In another twist, there now may be a link between the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on Sony’s PlayStation network on Christmas Day and the Sony Pictures hack.
During an interview with the Washington Post, a member of Lizard Squad – the group who claimed responsibility for taking down the PlayStation network – said Lizard Squad gave the Guardians of Peace Sony employee logins for the initial cyber-attack.
When asked if Lizard Squad was involved in the Sony Hack, the hacker who identified himself as “Ryan” answered, “Well, we didn’t play a large part in that.”
READ MORE: Who is ‘Lizard Squad’ and why do they hack gaming networks?
Lizard Squad took down both Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox Live networks for many hours on Thursday , just as many gamers were unwrapping new gaming consoles. Neither Sony nor Microsoft has said what disrupted their networks.
The hacker group claims it was trying to expose the number of security issues companies like Sony are facing with their networks.
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