[S]omewhere, in Pyongyang, North Korea, dictator Kim Jong Un has to be sitting back, sipping a glass of Hennessy and laughing heartily, despite a new round of sanctions being levied against his country. For years, the hardened dictator and his family have threatened the American public. The country, which is the only country still on a worldwide blacklist from the Cold War Era, is known for its brutal suppression of its own citizens and its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Both Kim Jong Un and his father, the late Kim Jung Il, have kept the Korean Peninsula on high alert for years, where almost 30,000 U.S. troops are ready to do battle with the North Koreans at any given moment.
After threats of war, nuclear intimidation and even the sinking of a sub that killed 46 soldiers, who would’ve thought that a comedy featuring two stoners would present the regime with an alleged opportunity to terrorize the American people and cause such an uproar. Movie chains around the country decided to cancel showings of Seth Rogan and James Franco’s movie “The Interview,” after hackers allegedly connected to North Korea threatened “9/11” style attacks at any movie theater that showed the film.
A few days after President Obama chastised Sony for making “a mistake” and declared that the United States would deliver a proportional response. The North Koreans Internet was attacked and shut down, prompting Kim Jong Un, who denied involvement in the hack, to promise battle with the United States, if there were any retaliatory actions, marking the first official cyber war in history.
|Kim Jon Un’s father, Kim Jong Il loved to drink Hennessy. Despite the fact that the average North Korean makes about $25 per month, Kim Jong Il would spend millions each year on Hennessy.|
It was almost like a scene that could have been in the movie, especially after all the uproar, theaters decided to show the picture, after all.
“We’ve been saying for years that the battlefield is changing from guns and tanks to keyboards and computer screens. A successful attack like this – costing millions if not billions of dollars and virtually controlling the actions of an international corporation – is just the beginning of a new reality in security,” said Austen Givens, Professor of practice in cybersecurity and homeland security at Utica College.
According to Professor Givens, who is the co-author of “The Business of Counterterrorism: Public-Private Partnerships in Homeland Security,” the U.S. experienced the first example of cyber terrorism in history. “The North Korean attack on Sony Pictures is ground-breaking,” said Givens. “I believe that this incident represents the first successful major cyberterrorist attack in world history, with myriad implications for corporate and international political concerns.”
For Sony, the losses amount to almost $200 million in lost revenue, thanks to limited showings of “The Interview,” while over 100 terabytes of data that include the new James Bond script, details of a record label with Snapchat, as well as Sony’s corporate plans, could cause even further monetary damage. The company’s stock has dipped almost 5% since the ordeal started on November 24.
Even though this attack was supposedly committed by a hostile country and not a group of criminal hackers, the incident serves as another reminder that nothing is totally secure on the Internet, so be careful. “What is happening at Sony — the thousands of private communications now made public — should prove to us all that online privacy is an illusion,” noted Dr. Frieda Birnbaum, a Research Psychologist, and Psychoanalyst. “The embarrassment these executives are experiencing should make everyone cautious about what they say about other people in emails, especially if it is negative.”
Dr. Birnbaum, who is an expert in depression and attaining happiness, predicts the development of the next ground breaking idea could be stifled because of security fears, which in turn, could lead to the supression of creative ideas. “Because online communications are no longer safe, it will likely have an impact on the sharing and development of productive ideas. Fear of intellectual property theft may keep some world-changing innovations from ever becoming reality.”
Politics aside, both say the cyber attack should be a wakeup call for American citizens on a number of important issues and not just the security of our data. For Dr. Birnbaum, working in the “real world” is a perfectly viable, healthy alternative to the Internet.
“The silver lining to the Sony hacking scandal is that it will force more people to meet face-to-face to share sensitive information,” Dr. Birnbaum said. “Face-to-face communication is mentally healthy.”
According to Professor Givens, the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack underscores a serious need for talent in the technology industry, specifically, the field of cybersecurity, a concentration of study that is among the speciality courses offered both online and offline by Utica College, which is based in Albany, New York.
“The North Korean attack on Sony Pictures further demonstrates the importance of top-quality education for tomorrow’s cybersecurity professionals,” Professor Givens said. “At Utica College, we prepare future cybersecurity leaders to defend against threats like the North Korean attack on Sony Pictures. Our graduates are ready right now to supply corporations and government agencies with the cybersecurity expertise that they urgently need.”
While President Obama is slapping sanctions on North Korea, the punishment won’t solve the issues within the federal government, because there is a massive skills gap when it comes to technology and analyzing data that could be turned into actionable information. A survey conducted by SAS, 96% of respondents indicated there was a data skills gap at their agency.
“It’s alarming that 96 percent of those surveyed — 46 percent of whom self-identify as experts or analysts — believe their agency has a data skills gap,” said Karen Terrell, Vice President, SAS Federal. “This report is a wake-up call for the entire federal community — agencies, Congress, contractors and educational institutions — to take responsibility. Without immediate action to dedicate resources to overcoming the federal workforce data and analytics skills gap, our nation will grow increasingly uncompetitive in the global community.”
If you’re willing to work for the feds, there are plenty of high paying jobs just waiting for you.