The U.S. government is considering “a range of options in weighing a potential response” to the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, as reports swirled on Wednesday that investigators have concluded that North Korea is linked to the security breach on the studio.
“The United States is investigating attribution and will provide an update at the appropriate time,” said a spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council, without naming North Korea. “The U.S. government is working tirelessly to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice, and we are considering a range of options in weighing a potential response.”
Earlier on Wednesday, CNN, CNBC and other news outlet cited unnamed sources in reporting that hackers working on behalf of the North Korean government were behind the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
“We have found linkage to the North Korean government,” a source told CNBC.
CNN’s Evan Perez said that an announcement is expected on Thursday that would “assign attribution” to the country, which threatened retaliation over the release of “The Interview.”
An FBI official said that the agency had no immediate comment because the investigation is ongoing. But they are expected to issue a statement on their findings within the next day.
The New York Times reported that U.S. officials had differences of opinion on whether the hackers were aided by Sony insiders. The Times reported that U.S. officials had determined that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the attacks on Sony.
It’s unclear what kind of action the U.S. may take, if any, in response, or whether it would issue any kind of an official statement.
“The U.S. government closely monitors all reports of breaches affecting U.S. companies, U.S. consumers, and U.S. infrastructure,” NSC spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. “We know that criminals and foreign countries regularly seek to gain access to government and private sector networks – both in the United States and elsewhere.”
She added, “We are aware of Sony’s announcement regarding ‘’The Interview.’ The United States respects artists’ and entertainers’ right to produce and distribute content of their choosing. The U.S. government has no involvement in such decisions. We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists’ freedom of speech or of expression.”
In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday, President Obama said that his administration was taking the hacker attack seriously but that “for now my recommendation would be, go to the movies.” The interview apparently was conducted before Sony announced that it was pulling the movie from release after major theater chains decided not to show it.
On Tuesday, the studio said that it was leaving a decision of whether to show the movie to exhibitors. That came after the hackers issued a threat of physical harm and a “9/11” style attack at theaters where the movie was being shown. But an official with the Department of Homeland Security told media outlets that there was “no credible intelligence” showing an active plot.
Meehan said that the U.S. government “has offered Sony Pictures Entertainment support and assistance in response to the attack. ” The FBi is leading the investigation.
An FBI official had no comments on reports of North Korea’s involvement, citing an ongoing investigation.