TIME Security

3 Reasons People Think North Korea Hacked Sony

And 4 reasons it might have been somebody else

It’s been more than three weeks since Sony Pictures employees arrived in their offices to find threatening messages accompanied by glowing skulls placed by hackers on their computer screens, but the embattled studio is still dealing with the fallout. Terabytes of Sony’s internal data has been leaked online. Sony’s been hit with multiple ex-employee lawsuits. Ominous warnings have been issued about attacks on movie theaters that play Sony’s upcoming The Interview.

But we still don’t know a basic question: Who hacked Sony?

The person or people claiming responsibility call themselves the “Guardians of Peace,” or GOP. Early reports suggested North Korea was behind the GOP, and there’s been some evidence of that. But North Korea has denied responsibility for the hack, and it’s equally possible the assailants planted clues leading to North Korea as a distraction.

Here’s why people think North Korea was involved:

The attack looks similar to hacks previously linked to North Korea, according to cybersecurity analysts. In a hack like the one against Sony, the attackers most likely found a way to infect Sony’s systems with malware, probably through an email. Once Sony’s system was infected, the hackers could use what’s called a command-and-control server to steal data. And, as it turns out, the malware being used against Sony communicates with at least one of the same command-and-control servers used in previous attacks attributed to North Korea.

It’s improbable that’s a coincidence, experts say. And the malware itself was developed and compiled on systems set to use the Korean language, another clue pointing to North Korea.

“It’s highly unlikely to see another piece of malware that carries strong similarity characteristics and uses the same command and control server,” Kaspersky Lab analyst Kurt Baumgartner says. “It’s a very unique indicator.”

North Korea has a motive. The leaders of the reclusive nation are furious about Sony’s upcoming release of Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy The Interview, which revolves around an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korea has called the movie an “act of war.”

The hackers are doing whatever they can to stop people from seeing The Interview. On Tuesday, the hackers or somebody claiming to be associated with them threatened to attack movie theaters that screen The Interview. At least one theater chain has already decided not to show the movie.

But there are reasons to doubt North Korea’s involvement:

North Korea has denied the hacks. The government officially claimed it wasn’t responsible, but praised it as a “righteous deed.” American law enforcement is investigating any possible North Korea links, but so far hasn’t found evidence of one.

It’s easy enough to buy and sell malware. There’s a big black market for malware, and a lot of it is simply traded, repackaged and used again. So the similarities between the Sony attack and earlier hacks linked to North Korea may not be so telling.

The North Korea clues and theater threats could be a red herring. North Korea was making vague threats over The Interview long before Sony was hacked. If random hackers attacked Sony because they found an exploitable weak point, they might have left clues pointing to North Korea and made threats to keep attention squarely on Pyongyang.

It could just be random hackers. Sony has long been a favorite target of hackers around the world. Its PlayStation Network, for instance, has repeatedly been hit by disabling attacks. That’s at least in part because back in the mid-2000s, Sony put software on millions of music CDs that, when put in a computer, would automatically install software meant to make it harder to illegally copy those albums. Sony’s software, however, installed itself without users’ knowledge and exposed users’ machines to security vulnerabilities. Many in the hacker community have not forgiven Sony for the practice, which it ended in 2007.

Read next: These Are the Theaters That Have Pulled ‘The Interview’ After Threat

TIME celebrities

Robin Williams’s Son Zak on His Dad: ‘I Miss Him All the Time’

Timo Pre Fall 2009 Launch with Interview Magazine
Robin Williams and Zak Williams attend the Timo Pre Fall 2009 Launch with Interview Magazine at Phillips De Pury on Nov. 18, 2008 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy—WireImage/Getty Images

"Often I see something or if I'm watching a film, I think, 'Oh, man, he would have appreciated this'"

Four months after Robin Williams took his own life at age 63, his eldest son has opened up about the loss of his beloved father.

“I miss him all the time,” Williams’s oldest son, Zak, 31, tells People. “Often I see something or if I’m watching a film, I think, ‘Oh, man, he would have appreciated this’ or ‘He would have gotten a laugh out of this.'”

“There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about our dad,” Zak said, speaking for himself and siblings Zelda, 25, and Cody, 23.

Read more at People.

TIME celebrities

Stephen Collins Confesses to Child Molestation

Stephen Collins in Beverly Hills in 2010.
Stephen Collins in Beverly Hills in 2010. Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images

"I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret," Collins said

Actor Stephen Collins has admitted to inappropriate sexual contact with three female minors in a statement to People.

A recording of the 67-year-old 7th Heaven actor confessing to child molestation was released to TMZ and published in October. Collins recounts three victims from 1973 to 1994 and how “I have not had an impulse to act out in any such way” in the last 20 years.

In his statement to People, Collins said, “Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. I’ve decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organizations published a recording made by my then-wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January, 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist’s or my knowledge or consent.”

Read more at People

Read next: Stephen Collins Loses Another Role Amid Molestation Allegations

TIME Military

The Navy’s New Drone Looks Just Like a Shark

The GhostSwimmer vehicle.
The GhostSwimmer vehicle. Edward Guttierrez III—U.S. Navy/SIPA

The new drone could replace dolphins and sea lions in spotting underwater mines and finding equipment

The Navy has designed an underwater drone that could star in a Jaws reboot for the 21st century: designed to look and swim like a real fish as part of experiments with unmanned underwater vehicles.

The drone is five feet long and weights nearly 100 pounds, Wired reports, and while it’s more the size of a large tuna, it looks much more like a shark. The robot propels itself forward with a tail, can dive as deep as 300 feet and swim independently.

The drone shark, which was developed by a a Navy contractor called Advanced Systems Group at Boston Engineering and dubbed the GhostSwimmer, can be used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It could also replace the bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions the Navy trains to recover equipment and spot underwater mines.


TIME Crime

Boy Steals Grandma’s Guns and Trades Them for Pot

A swap any good peacenik would approve of

It’s a story as American as apple pie: a 14-year-old boy steals his grandmother’s guns and trades them for marijuana.

Sheriff’s investigators say that’s what happened in Sacramento County, California, where a Missouri boy staying with his grandmother allegedly took a sledgehammer to her safe, took her two guns inside, and drove off with her car Monday night, the local ABC affiliate reports.

Amazingly, the grandmother, who is a bus driver for the local school district, saw the boy driving her car around town the next morning in the middle of her shift. Unable to chase him down because she was driving a school bus full of children, she called the police, who arrested him.


TIME movies

Library of Congress Declares ‘The Dude’ and Ferris Bueller Part of America’s National Heritage

Charlie Schlatter as Ferris Bueller.
Charlie Schlatter as Ferris Bueller. Alice S. Hall—NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Willy Wonka, too

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Saving Private Ryan and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory are among the 25 films the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress has recognized in an annual selection of notable works.

The selection brings the total number of films in the registry to 650, a total which includes Hollywood films, indies, documentaries, silent movies and student films, Variety reports.

Also part of the selection are seven reels of footage from 1913 featuring vaudevillian Bert Williams. Williams was the first African-American Broadway headliner and the most popular recording artist before 1920.

Of the nation’s silent feature films, 70% have been lost forever and only 14% exist in their original 35mm format, according to the Library of Congress. The film selection for the registry helps preserve them.

“The National Film Registry showcases the extraordinary diversity of America’s film heritage and the disparate strands making it so vibrant,” said the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “By preserving these films, we protect a crucial element of American creativity, culture and history.”


TIME Retail

Friday Is Amazon’s Free Shipping Christmas Deadline

Inside An Amazon.com Distribution Center On Cyber Monday
An employee stacks boxes filled with merchandise for shipment at the Amazon.com Inc. distribution center in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Don't miss these deadlines

The perils of shopping for holiday gifts online or sending packages too close to an impending birthday or holiday are well known. It’s all too easy to click ‘place order’ a day late and leave your Christmas stockings un-stocked because your order didn’t arrive on time.

Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, has a huge budget devoted to processing its holiday orders quickly this year. The company recently installed some 15,000 high-tech Kiva robots in its fulfillment centers to whisk items quickly into delivery, and last year, Amazon inked a deal with the U.S. Postal Service to offer Sunday shipping through the season.

There’s no question shipping is squeezing the company’s finances: Amazon spent about $6.64 billion on shipping last year, but only took in about $3.1 billion in shipping payments.

Helpfully, Amazon has a way to make sure you get your online shopping done on time: a simple chart that tells customers when to buy Christmas gifts before it’s too late.

If you live in one of the contiguous 48 states, here are all the last days you can order a present from Amazon if you want to make sure it arrives before wrapping day (December 24).

Free Shipping (Non-Prime) — December 19

Standard Shipping — December 19

Two-Day Shipping — December 22

One-Day Shipping — December 23

Local Express Delivery — December 24

For Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, check out Amazon’s website.

As far as shipping other gifts to your relatives, the rules are a little more complicated because of all the parcel delivery services in the U.S. But no fear—TIME has compiled a list of handy deadlines for shipping gift packages via UPS, USPS and FedEx to friends and family in time for Christmas Eve arrival. A quick caveat: Unexpected weather and human error can always cause unexpected delays with any shipping service, so the earlier your order your gifts, the safer you’ll be.


The last day to ship with FedEx via the standard ground shipping for pre-Christmas delivery is Wednesday, December 17.

For FedEx Express, the last day is Tuesday, December 23.


Do all your standard package shipping with the government-run postal service by Monday, December 15.

For sending greeting cards and priority mail, the last day is Saturday, December 20.

And for procrastinators out there, Priority Mail Express can be used until December 23.


For standard ground shipping with UPS, send all your packages out by Thursday, December 18.

For UPS 3 Day Select, it’s Friday, December 19.

For UPS 2nd Day Air, you have until Monday, December 22.

For UPS Next Day Air, rely on Tuesday, December 23.

And if things get really urgent and you’re welling to shell out the bucks, UPS Express Critical by December 24 will get the job done.

TIME Economy

Americans Get Sunnier About the Economy

Ahmad Ali, Ghalzal Ali
Shoppers patronize a Target store just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty—AP

Economic optimism is at its highest level in almost eight years

Americans’ confidence in the economy is returning after years of doubt and pessimism, with economic output, jobs figures and retail sales in a strong upswing.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment rose to a near eight-year high in December, according to data released on Friday, similar to levels seen in boom years like 1996 and 2004, and the best since January 2007.

The increased optimism is a result of strength in many sectors of the economy. Economists expect a sharp drop in gasoline prices to help boost the economy in the coming months. The federal government forecasts the price of a gallon of gas will drop to $2.60 nationwide next year, compared with $3.37 this year, translating to greater spending rather than savings—particularly for low-income Americans.

Reasons for concern remain, including sluggish wage growth and the plight of the long-term unemployed. The drop in oil prices is also rattling the stock market, with the Dow dropping more than 300 points on Friday.

But the most recent jobs report was promising, with 321,000 jobs added to payrolls around the country in November—the biggest monthly increase in three years—holding the unemployment rate at 5.8%. The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.9% in the third quarter of 2014, and in the second quarter GDP grew 4.6%.

“Everything is pointing in the right direction for the consumer,” chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics Paul Ashworth said, according to Bloomberg. “We expect a pretty good run for consumption growth in the fourth quarter. It is a big boost for the economy.”

Americans are finally feeling the effects of the improving economy. According to the Reuters poll’s director, Richard Curtin, more consumers had good news than bad news when asked about the economy than in any month since 1984. But the first quarter of 2014 still saw a deep contraction in the economy of 2.6%, partially due to an unusually cold winter in many parts of the country.

The improving sentiment is likely to further boost the economy and could translate into higher worker wages and more consumer purchasing.

TIME intelligence

People Are Complaining the Torture Report Is ‘Unreadable’ on Amazon Kindle

Reviews on Amazon.com about the Senate torture report

The Kindle may not be the best place to read the torture report

The Senate report on CIA interrogation tactics is too hard to read on the Kindle, Amazon customers are saying.

The report, which details the brutal tactics—now widely condemned as torture—employed by the CIA in order to interrogate terrorism suspects, and faults the agency for misleading the White House and Congress about it. But the report is “unreadable” on the Kindle, according to customer reviews.

One verified purchaser said “don’t waste your money — unreadable on a kindle.” Another reviewer said, “Don’t bother with this unless you can read it on a large screen; it’s basically a pdf and you can get it for free from the committee web site.”
Another reviewer said the report was readable on the Kindle iPad app, and the PDF is available for free from the New York Times, PBS, and others—and you can read it here.
TIME celebrities

Aaron Sorkin Defends Amy Pascal in Sony Hack

HBO's "The Newsroom" - Season 3 Premiere
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Writer Aaron Sorkin attends the premiere of "The Newsroom" at DGA Theater on November 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic

The director of The Social Network stands by the beleaguered Pascal

Aaron Sorkin, George Clooney and others in Hollywood have voiced support for Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal in the wake of a devastating cyber attack on her studio.

Pascal has faced a series of humiliating revelations in recent weeks as internal company emails were dumped online after a massive hack against Sony. Pascal and producer Scott Rudin exchanged racially insensitive emails about President Barack Obama, for which she has since apologized, and Sony has been accused of poorly securing its data.

Sorkin, who wrote The Social Network (2010) and the upcoming Jobs told The Hollywood Reporter that Pascal’s apology was sincere.

“Amy knows more than a lot of people what it’s like to battle stereotypes. She’s a woman at a large corporation who worked her way from assistant to the chairman’s office,” Sorkin said. “Amy would rather cut off her own hand than intentionally hurt someone.”

George Clooney and Creative Artists Agency partner Bryan Lourd have privately expressed support for Pascal, according to the Reporter. Seth Rogen said to an audience at the premiere of The Interview on December 11, “I’d like to thank Amy Pascal for having the balls to make this movie.”

MORE: Who is Amy Pascal?

[The Hollywood Reporter]

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