Many private security firms seem to think that the Sony hack was was perpetrated by a disgruntled insider, but the FBI is standing by it's initial assessment that North Korea is behind the attack.

US cybersecurity experts say they have solid evidence that a former employee helped hack Sony Pictures Entertainment's computer system -- and that it was not masterminded by North Korean cyberterrorists.

One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people -- including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports. ...

Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, said he used Sony's leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack.

The United States may have a lot invested in the FBI's assessment being correct: we may have already struck back at North Korea.

North Korea's connection to the Internet was essentially inactive Monday just days after the U.S. said it would consider a "proportional response" to a hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment related to the comedy flick "The Interview." The U.S. would not confirm if it was behind nearly hourly outages that occurred Sunday and Monday in North Korea. U.S. Cyber Command, which handles the U.S. military's unified defensive and offensive capabilities online, could not immediately be reached for comment.

UPDATE 3:25 p.m. EST: The U.S. State Department did not confirm nor deny any involvement in the outage, and spokeswoman Marie Harf had this to say:

"As the president said, we are considering a range of options in response. We aren't going to discuss publicly operational details about the possible response options or comment on those kind of reports in any way except to say that as we implement our responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen. So I can't confirm those reports, but in general, that's what the president has spoken to."

North Korea isn't likely to get much sympathy, but the U.S. will look pretty foolish if it becomes obvious that we were baited into a "counter"-attack on false pretenses.

Bruce Schneier has more thoughts on the perpetrators and doesn't think the job was done by insiders.

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