Tether Suspected in Sony Hack

North Korean hackers may have used a new powerful smartphone to hack Sony.

In an attack against Sony’s comedy The Interview, which depicts the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, the hackers used a time-bomb virus to steal emails and other private data, threatening to leak the information to the press if The Interview hit theaters this Christmas. US authorities now suspect the hackers may have used an advanced cell phone called the Tether to accomplish their attack.

The Tether, developed by The Phone Company, is billed as the world’s smartest phone, and it contains some frightening technology.

“We believe the [Tether] may have the ability for quantum decryption,” says MIT mechanical engineer Floyd Rogan. Quantum decryption is one of the key functions of quantum computing. While still theoretical, this type of decryption is thought to be capable of bypassing most existing encryption methods that keep our sensitive data safe. “Sony emails and corporate data would be an easy target,” Rogan says. “I hate to think what other systems these hackers could crack.”

Fortunately scientists are still developing the first functional quantum computer—or so we thought. Investigating the attacks, the FBI have found some troubling indicators of quantum decryption, including the speed with which the hackers infiltrated the Sony network to plant the time-bomb virus. “The only device we think may be even close to capable of these speeds is the Tether,” Rogan admits. Indeed, the FBI have traced some of the IP addresses involved in the attack back to a specific telecomm provider: The Phone Company. The Tethers seem to employ an unknown type of impenetrable cryptography that many experts agree could only be achieved with a quantum computer. “The fact that this type of technology is available in a mobile device is terrifying,” Rogan says.

Experts are still puzzling together how this technology may have found its way into a smartphone. “No one has made [a workable quantum computer] yet,” states Franklin James, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Canada. “We’re getting closer, but there are still issues with entanglements, and then there’s the size of such a device. It beggars belief that a quantum computer the size of a giant beer keg could fit in a phone not much larger than the palm of your hand.”

However the hackers managed to crack into Sony’s data vaults, they have warned Sony of further attacks if The Interview is released in any format. Authorities are still investigating the Tether's role in the Sony hack and its capability for future cyberterrorism.


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