The crippling cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has been traced to a five-star hotel in Bangkok, reports from foreign media said yesterday.
The hackers, believed to belong to a pro-North Korea group, carried out their devastating and embarrassing attack with the help of a high-speed Wi-Fi connection at the elegant St Regis Bangkok hotel, according to the reports that cited an unnamed source.
It remained unknown yesterday whether the hacking, which took place in the early hours of December 2, was carried out in a guestroom or in a public area.
Cyber-security experts traced the hackers' "digital footprints" to the hotel although they did not rule out the possibility the offence was carried out remotely and the perpetrators took advantage of the hotel's open network, according to the source.
The management of St Regis Bangkok is aware of the incident and is investigating, according to a hotel employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The hotel will comment publicly when it has sufficient information, the staffer said.
The attack shut down most of the Hollywood Studio's entertainment arm for more than a week. The hackers released sensitive data over the Internet, including employee salaries and Social Security numbers along with high-quality digital versions of several unreleased films.
Cyber-attack the "work of pro-North Korea supporters"
Meanwhile, the North Korean government's state-run media said the cyber-attack may have been the work of pro-Pyongyang supporters. They also dismissed charges that the country itself was to blame as a "wild rumour", Reuters reported yesterday from Seoul and Boston.
An article from the state KCNA news agency said North Korea had "called on the world" to defend it from a forthcoming Sony Pictures Entertainment comedy, "The Interview", which features a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea has described the film as an "act of war".
"The hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathisers of the DPRK in response to its appeal," the KCNA article said, using the official DPRK acronym for North Korea.
The article, which represents Pyongyang's most detailed response about the attack to date, denounced South Korea, accusing Seoul of "floating the false rumour that the North was involved in the hacking".
It also warned the United States that "there are a great number of supporters and sympathisers of the DPRK all over the world".
It said Guardians of Peace, the hacking gang that has taken responsibility for the attack at the Sony Corp unit, was one such group. A North Korean diplomat has denied Pyongyang was behind the attack, though a US national security source said it was a suspect.
Joseph DeTrani, a former senior US intelligence official who has served as a special envoy in negotiations with Pyongyang, said that North Korea has historically been truthful when making statements about its involvement in attacks.