U.S. Charges North Korean in Sony Hack and WannaCry Virus Attack

U.S. Charges North Korean in Sony Hack and WannaCry Virus Attack

U.S. Charges North Korean in Sony Hack and WannaCry Virus Attack

Sony Pictures was targeted in another hack blamed on the North Korean group in 2014.

In the attack on Sony, hackers wiped data from thousands of computers, stole and released films confidential emails whose contents forced the resignation of a top executive, and most alarming of all, pressured the Hollywood studio to pull a satirical film planned for a Christmas release depicting the assassination of leader Kim Jong-Un.

"The complaint charges members of this North Korean-based conspiracy with being responsible for cyberattacks that caused unprecedented economic damage and disruption to businesses in the United States and around the globe", First Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison said in a statement.

Park is also charged with being involved in numerous other attacks, including an alleged targeting of South Korean figures and Lockheed Martin, which officials noted runs a missile defense system in South Korea.

It is unlikely Park will be extradited since the USA has no formal relations with North Korea.

The U.S. Justice and Treasury Departments said Park Jin Hyok was "part of the conspiracy" that masterminded those notorious hacks "on behalf of the Government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea". It also led to the cancelled release of the film The Interview. "Despite efforts to hide his identity and the subjects' efforts to isolate the Chosun Expo Accounts from operational accounts that they used with aliases to carry on their hacking operations", the Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit states, "there are numerous connections between these sets of accounts".

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.

Park Jin Hyok is said to be linked to the Lazarus Group.

According to the 176-page indictment, Park worked for Chosun Expo Joint Venture, a company tied to a North Korean military intelligence unit called Lab 110.

"The criminal conduct outlined in this case is intolerable", said Tracy Wilkison, the first assistant USA attorney in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press reported that a North Korean who is believed to have operated out of China will be among those charged.

"The department has charged, arrested and imprisoned hackers working for the governments of China, Russia and Iran".

A month later, U.S. officials blamed North Korea for the attack, an accusation backed by several organisations, including one linked to the South Korean government.

No North Korean government officials were referenced in the complaint by name, though it does allege the government sponsored the attacks.

In 2014, for instance, the Obama administration charged five Chinese military hackers with a series of digital break-ins at American companies, and previous year, the Justice Department charged Russian hackers with an intrusion at Yahoo Inc.

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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