Hill Weighs in on North Korea's Sony Hack

Feinstein defends Sony; Rubio points fingers at President; McCaul focuses on beefing up cybersecurity
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Capitol Hill was quick to react Friday after the FBI concluded North Korea hacked into Sony's computers and stole massive amounts of data in an effort to get Sony to kill its film The Interview about the assassination of its leader.

On CNN, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was not pointing fingers at Sony, saying the country needs to find ways to respond to and stop such hacks. 

She said it sounded to her like Sony had done its due diligence, including contacting the White House, and that she understood the company's concerns about liability.

She said the Administration needs to take action to show that the government has the ability to respond appropriately and "imminently" to the attack. "I hope we can convince the North Koreans that this carries a very heavy price." But she said that long-term, the action has to be a worldwide, enforceable cybersecurity agreement.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, made some political hay, saying he was not happy with Sony or with what he saw as a weak American posture. "The fact that North Korea was willing to conduct a flagrant cyber-attack against a major corporation and even threaten violence against Americans attending movie theaters across the country is another example of the devastating consequences that result when America projects weakness."

He called on the President to respond swiftly and suggested Sony's decision to pull the film — Sony says the decision was forced on it by theater owners not willing to show it — was a blow to freedom of expression. "I call on the President to respond swiftly to undo the damage to freedom of speech and expression caused by Sony’s decision to not release ‘The Interview,'" he said. "I also look forward to hearing from administration officials what the United States’ response to this blatant violation of America’s sovereignty and security will be."

“When rogue regimes attack and threaten America and pay no consequences, it only makes us less safe. The events of the past week should serve as a reminder that, from East Asia to our own hemisphere, this President’s foreign policy is a disaster.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, said the key takeaway from the hack was the need to shore up cyber defenses.

“Nation-state actors are increasingly hacking into U.S. companies and government networks to steal intellectual property and secrets without consequence...However, the Sony attack was more than just theft — it was destructive. If North Korea has these capabilities, imagine what damage nation-states like Russia, China or Iran can cause to our nation’s vital networks that control our power grid, energy and water supplies or other critical infrastructure. We must do more to ensure our nation is able to prevent, detect and respond to the growing cyber threat. This will be a top of focus of my committee next Congress and I will continue to work with my House and Senate colleagues to build on the cybersecurity legislation passed by Congress last week.”

House Intelligence Committee Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) said on CNN Friday that he thought Hollywood should try and put "The Interview" out as widely as possible, otherwise it will invite further extortion. He pionted out that Sony was still considering putting the film out, but has said it does not have partners--e-commerce sites or VOD companies--willing to help. Schiff encouraged companies to team up to help Sony get the film out.

He said he understood the concern, but that companies needed to understand the consequences of backing down. "We have to make sure there is a different ending to this story.

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