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U.S. Officials Reportedly Tie North Korea To Massive Sony Hack

Several news organizations, citing U.S. officials, reported Wednesday that North Korea was behind the Sony data hack. The revelation came on the same day the studio decided to cancel the release of The Interview.

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North Korea was responsible for the massive hack that targeted Sony, government officials told several media outlets Wednesday.

U.S. intelligence officials traced the source of the hack to North Korea, the New York Times reported, ultimately determining that the isolated nation was "centrally involved."

An official told NBC News that there was "linkage" between North Korea and the cyber attack. And according to the Wall Street Journal, investigators suspect the hack was the work of Unit 121, a team in North Korea's General Bureau of Reconnaissance.

North Korea had previously denied responsibility for the hack, but nevertheless called it a "righteous deed."

Investigators reportedly were still working Wednesday to determine exactly what happened. According to the Times, forensic experts at Sony were trying to figure out if someone inside the company helped the hackers.

The attack also left a long digital trail; the hackers relied on commercial tools, as well as techniques that were used in previous attacks on South Korea and other countries.

The hackers also routed their attacks through control centers all over the world, including in Singapore, Thailand, and Bolivia, the Times reported.

According to the Associated Press, federal investigators plan to make an announcement regarding North Korea's role in the hack soon.

The revelation about the hack comes on the same day that Sony canceled its release of The Interview.

The hack has been a nightmare for Sony and its employees. The latest blow came Wednesday when the company canceled the release of the Seth Rogan and James Franco comedy, which depicts the fictional assassination of Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea.

Kevork Djansezian / Reuters

A security guard stands at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film The Interview in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 11.

The studio pulled the film amid threats from the hackers and as major theater chains canceled screenings. On Tuesday, the FBI warned that theaters and other businesses could be targeted for cyber attacks if they are associated with The Interview, Reuters reported.

Rogan and Franco also pulled out of all media appearances in advance of the film's scheduled release.

Sony went even further late Wednesday, saying it had "no further release plans" for The Interview.

The effects of the hack on the film industry rippled out further Wednesday when New Regency canceled plans for a Steve Carrell film set in North Korea, Entertainment Weekly reported.

Former Sony employees have already filed a lawsuit against the studio over the leak of their personal information.

It was still unclear Wednesday how the U.S. would respond to the hack.

According to the Times, some Obama administration officials have pushed for a direct confrontation with North Korea, while others believe such a move could escalate an already delicate diplomatic situation.

In a statement emailed to BuzzFeed News Wednesday night, National Safety Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. was still investigating the hack and "weighing a potential response." The Meehan also said the government was not involved in the decision to pull The Interview:

The U.S. government closely monitors all reports of breaches affecting U.S. companies, U.S. consumers, and U.S. infrastructure. 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.

The U.S. government has offered Sony Pictures Entertainment support and assistance in response to the attack. The FBI has the lead for the investigation. The United States is investigating attribution and will provide an update at the appropriate time. 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.

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.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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