USA charges North Korean man linked to Sony hack and WannaCry

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USA charges North Korean man linked to Sony hack and WannaCry

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Thursday that it was charging a North Korean programmer in the 2014 Sony hack, last year's "WannaCry" malware attack and a 2016 theft from the Bangladesh Bank.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers described the probe as one of the lengthiest and thorough cyber investigations in the division's history.

The Treasury announced financial sanctions on Park and a government-controlled company he worked for, Chosun Expo Joint Venture.

Park used a series of online personas for social media platforms, including on Facebook and Twitter, to send malicious links to individuals involved in the production of "The Interview", the complaint said.

"North Korea has demonstrated a pattern of disruptive and harmful cyber activity that is inconsistent with the growing consensus on what constitutes responsible state behavior in cyberspace", the Treasury said in a statement.

Experts at the time were sceptical about North Korean involvement in the leaks, but a Bloomberg report suggested a Sony internal report linked the attack to a group associated with Pyongyang known as DarkSeoul, which wiped out the computers of South Korean banks and broadcasters in March 2013.

North Korea has always been suspected - and accused - of having carried out the Sony hack and being behind the WannaCry ransomware but today those accusations were made formal.

The charges, part of a strategy by the United States government to deter future cyberattacks by naming and shaming the alleged perpetrators, will also allege that the North Korean hacker broke into the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016, according to the official.

Sony wound up canceling the theatrical release after threats were made to theaters.

The named individual - Park Jin Hyok - often visited China to carry out legitimate computer work, the formal complaint notes, before returning to North Korea to continue his hacking work on behalf of his government. It's been a year and half since he launched a ransomware attack that hit hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe.

The charges and sanctions singled out Park in some of the most notorious and damaging hacks in recent years, which had already been unofficially pinned on North Korea.

The criminal complaint, filed in Los Angeles, alleges that the hackers committed several attacks from 2014 until 2018. In recent years the department has charged hackers from China, Iran and Russian Federation in hopes of publicly shaming other countries for sponsoring cyberattacks on USA corporations. There has been no communication between the USA and North Korean government about a possible extradition, the official said.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims 'unwavering faith in President Trump.' Thank you to Chairman Kim".

Officials insist that the timing of the unsealing of the criminal complaint has nothing to do with the June summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, or with the push to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

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