North Korean National Charged In Sony Pictures Hacking, Other Cyberattacks

07 September, 2018, 19:20 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Plaza building in Culver City

The leader behind the North Korean cyber activities was identified in a criminal complaint as Park Jin Hyok, head of a North Korean government hacking cell that also carried out the ransomware attack known as WannaCry, and hacks against USA defense contractors, university faculty, technology companies, virtual currency exchanges, and US electric utilities.

The charges, part of a strategy by the U.S. government to deter future cyber attacks by naming and shaming the alleged perpetrators, also alleged that the North Korean hacker broke into the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016, according to a criminal complaint.

Although the United States previously blamed North Korea for the both the WannaCry and Sony Picture cyber attacks, this is the first time federal investigators have publicly named a suspect in the crimes. The FBI said the group has targeted, and continue to target, other victims and sectors, including defense contractors, university faculty, technology companies, virtual currency exchanges, and U.S. electric utilities. The complaint said: "as with the subjects' cyber-attack on [Sony Pictures], the subjects were successful in causing recipients at Bangladesh Bank to download the payload from their spear-phishing emails". "The North Korean-backed conspiracy attempted to crush freedom of speech in the USA and the U.K. It robbed banks around the world".

Park was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

In addition, the North Korean hackers also tried to use spear phishing in their attempts to penetrate U.S. defense contractors, at least one USA university, academic researchers, United States energy companies, and virtual currency exchanges.

The Treasury Department on Thursday also is expected to announce sanctions on North Koreans tied to the malicious activities, according to the newspaper.

The company is affiliated with the North Korean government hacking unit called Lab 110.

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

Officials state in the complaint that Park was working for a front company named the Korean Expo Joint Venture, which worked on behalf of North Korean intelligence and was charged with generating revenue for the military branch. The U.S. believes he was working for a North Korean-sponsored hacking organization.

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

The Trump White House also announced a year ago that it believed North Korea was behind for the WannaCry attack, which spread rapidly through hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries last May.

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.

In the massive cyber attack on Sony, hackers erased data from thousands of computers and stole tens of thousands of documents, including some emails embarrassing to the higher-ups, along with several movies that were posted on file-sharing sites.

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