United States charges North Korean programmer over WannaCry, Sony cyberattacks

Christopher Polk via Getty Images

Christopher Polk via Getty Images

The targeting of an entertainment firm behind content that might be embarrassing for Mr Kim's state was also seen with the 2014 Sony Pictures hack.

The US charged a North Korean programmer on Thursday (Sep 6) with some of the most dramatic global hacking cases of recent years, alleging they were carried out on behalf of the regime in Pyongyang.

The FBI said at the time it had recovered evidence connecting North Korea to the attack and others in South Korea. The U.S. Department of Treasury also announced sanctions on the same individual.

Authorities are charging a North Korean who is believed to have operated out of China, according to the official, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the matter before the department's announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The department also sanctioned the agency, stating that all property and interests of both Chosun Expo and Park within the US or in the possession of USA citizens must be frozen.

John Demers, who heads the Justice Department's National Security Division, told reporters on Thursday that it was important to call out hacking activities, as the US had done against China, Iran and Russian Federation.

Sony Pictures canceled release of "The Interview", a satire depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, in 2014.

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Park, who is believed to be in North Korea, conspired to conduct a series of attacks including the creation of the malware used in the 2017 WannaCry 2.0 global ransomware attack; the 2016 theft of United States dollars 81 million from Bangladesh Bank; the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and numerous other attacks or intrusions on entertainment, financial services, defence, technology and virtual currency industries.

The charges were brought against Park as the Trump administration seeks to improve relations with North Korea.

"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", said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

In 2014, USA officials said unnamed North Korean hackers were responsible for a major cyber intrusion into Sony, which resulted in leaked internal documents and data being destroyed.

President Trump's administration blamed the rogue regime late past year for the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide in May 2017 and crippled parts of Britain's National Health Service.

In one attack, an email sent to a victim from Facebook alerting them to the fact that their account had been accessed from a different IP address was grabbed by the hackers and then resent with the hyperlink within the email changed from Facebook's website to a domain that they controlled.

President Trump, for his part, has been on cosy terms with the North Korean dictator ever since their joint photo-op at a historic summit in June of this year. "We will get it done together!"

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