The Korean DoS Attacks UnSpools Like a Great Summer Movie

Summer is the time to get uncomplicated.  Read a mystery or detective novel that stays away from probing the deep problems of humanity.  Spend a hot day in a cool theatre watching what I call a summer “popcorn” movie like Independence Day or Transformers that provides a two hour escape without a lot of heavy thinking about the deeper allegories presented in the film (they are talking robots folks, not symbols of man’s constant search for meaning). 

The Korean DoS attack has emerged as our summer distraction and it has taken yet another turn as today South Korean officials announced that the hackers extracted data in the attacks.  But here is the twist – they only extracted lists of files, not the files themselves.  Why you may ask.  No one is sure.  But it is twists like this that makes this story so fun to follow.

Is it some diabolically intelligent plan that we are slowly unraveling only to see a new fiendishly clever layer?  Or is it a half baked, unsophisticated attack by rank amateurs who used an ancient attack vector and happened to hit it lucky to find poorly protected machines in places such as the White House and the Washington Post?   Is the attack from North Korea, or as some are now suggesting, the United Kingdom.  Is it the sophisticated work of a notorious and unfriendly nation state, or a pack of bumbling novices.  Are the protagonists more like Jack Bauer or Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau?  The bad guys more like Keyser Söze or Dr. Evil?

Theories abound as the plot thickens.  In the latest post on The Last Watchdog, Byron Acohido forwards the idea that this was a “stalking horse” attack meant to test the attack capabilities in the wild and perhaps advertise the capabilities for hire.   In his ThreatChaos blog on July 13, Richard Stiennon cites several analysts as characterizing the attack as “amateurish” and “wimpy”.  A new article on FederalTimes.Com notes that while the attacks were “primitive” that they caught many agencies off guard and these same agencies had issues in responding on a timely manner.  Lots of angles by very respected people in the IT security field.  

I often use such times to talk about Triumfant could help in such attacks, but such a commercial interruption would spoil the mood. We are watching a real summer thriller unspool in real time and for now I am content to observe the twists and turns and try to see who can crack the case and who will emerge as the mastermind.  As for me, I think the butler did it, but time will tell.