The NSA played a large role in tracing the Sony hacks back to North Korea, according to recent statements by the NSA director. Speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Manhattan today, Admiral Michael Rogers confirmed that the NSA's signals intelligence had been employed as part of the search for the Sony hackers. "We partner with the Department of Homeland Security and FBI in various areas and this is one such area," Rogers told reporters. "We were asked to provide our technical expertise. We were asked to take a look at the malware. We were asked to take a look at not just the data that was being generated from Sony but also what data could we bring to the table?" FBI Director James Comey had given some details on the attribution process earlier in the week, but did not speak directly to the NSA's role in the process.
For many, the NSA's involvement has been a missing link in the attribution of the attack, explaining the FBI's strong confidence in the attribution in spite of what many saw as less-than-convincing public evidence. A number of NSA programs could have been used to track the Sony files across the web — a task that recent Snowden documents referred to as "trivial" — and researchers have observed that the Xkeyscore program would have been ideal for tracking the Sony malware programs back to their source. Speaking to Fox Business before the conference, Rogers reaffirmed his agency's conclusion that North Korea was behind the attack. "I have very high confidence," Rogers told Fox's Matt Dean. "This was North Korea, let there be no doubt in anyone's mind."