United States charges North Korean programmer with WannaCry, other massive cyberattacks

07 September, 2018, 19:23 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Christopher Polk via Getty Images

The Justice Department plans to announce charges Thursday against a North Korean government spy in connection with the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, according to reports.

The charges are the first against a North Korean cyber operative, according to the Washington Post, which broke the story along with ABC News.

"The scale and scope of the cyber-crimes alleged by the complaint is staggering and offensive to all who respect the rule of law and the cyber norms accepted by responsible nations", John Demers, head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, said in a statement.

And then countless other attempts were made against Western targets, including hospitals, universities, utility companies, defense contractors, Bitcoin currencies and others.

The FBI alerted Lockheed to the hacking attempt and said there is no evidence any company information was compromised. Sony canceled the theatrical release of the film amid threats to moviegoers but released it online through YouTube and other sites. "The North Korean-backed conspiracy attempted to crush freedom of speech in the USA and the U.K. It robbed banks around the world".

The WannaCry ransomware attack targeted anyone using Windows computers in May of 2017 with demands to send cryptocurrency.

Park is charged with conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

That comedy film depicted a graphic assassination of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, and was denounced by the country.

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The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against Park and the Chinese-based front company he worked for, Chosun Expo.

Park is believed to be somewhere in North Korea, but it emerged on Thursday he has been charged with conspiracy in a Californian court over the attack on the NHS in may past year which spread to 150 countries.

A lengthy 179-page affidavit [PDF] from the special agent in charge of the investigation gives an extensive rundown of how the attacks were tracking back to Hyok, his hacking group, and eventually the North Korean government.

The affidavit includes new details into the methods used in the Sony Pictures attack, including spear phishing messages sent to Sony Pictures employees and "actors and other personnel associated with the movie 'The Interview, '" starting in September of 2014.

"It's been a year and half since he launched a ransomware attack that hit hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe", he added.

Investigators were able to track down the hackers by tracing their origin to a segment of some 1,024 internet protocol addresses assigned to North Korea.

The move against the North Korean hacker came as the United States seeks to get traction in negotiations with Pyongyang over halting its nuclear weapons programme.

WannaCry affected hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries past year and the Sony Pictures hack resulted in leaked films, scripts, employee information, internal emails and company passwords.

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