The US wants China's help blocking North Korean hackers

Apparently, the US is willing to recruit any ally it can get in its digital battles -- including countries that are frequently its adversaries. Sources for both the Associated Press and the New York Times claim that American officials have asked China to implement a block that would "cripple" North Korea's ability to launch cyberattacks like the one that hobbled Sony Pictures. Unfortunately, this request may be more than a little optimistic. China reportedly agrees that the attacks aren't cool, but it hasn't promised help. It doesn't exactly have much of an incentive to lend a hand when it's frequently engaged in cyberwarfare with the US.

Barring a change of heart, the US will likely have to resort to that proportional response it threatened against North Korea -- and details are emerging about that, too. Reportedly, the government is considering sanctions that would cut off North Korean leaders' access to cash, as well as internet attacks against their country's communications and military networks. The challenge is launching a digital assault that's damaging to the North's limited online infrastructure, but not so devastating that the nation retaliates in order to salvage its pride. As it is, the US may take its time developing any online attack strategy. Sabotage-oriented malware like Stuxnet (which many believe is a US creation) took years to develop, and even a relatively speedy campaign might take months.

[Image credit: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images]