United States charges North Korean man linked to Sony hack and WannaCry

Todd Singleton
September 7, 2018

The attacks came after Pyongyang sent a letter to the United Nations, demanding that Sony not move forward with the movie "The Interview" that portrayed the US -backed assassination of a character made to look like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The widespread 2014 attack on Sony, conducted by a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace, exposed a number of embarrassing emails between producers and top executives at the movie studio.

In 2014, US 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. Asked if any of Park's attacks were launched from China by North Korea, a Justice Department official said, "there's nothing in the complaint alleged on that".

U.S. prosecutors have charged a North Korean man alleged to have been involved in creating the malicious software used to cripple the UK's National Health Service.

"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 John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

In a criminal complaint filed earlier this year but only made public Thursday, the DOJ alleges Park Jin Hyok was a member of a hacking group known as the "Lazarus Group" and sponsored by the North Korean government, the DOJ said in a news release.

Sony canceled the release of the film amid threats to moviegoers. The depiction caused officials to complain to the United Nations and resulted in the state media of the isolated nation warning of "merciless retaliation".

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A North Korean man has been identified as part of a group that hacked the NHS, as well as allegedly being responsible for hacks on Sony Pictures and the theft of $81m (£62m) from a bank.

The hackers used the same aliases and accounts from the Sony attack when they sent spear-phishing emails to several US defence contractors, including Lockheed Martin, and others in South Korea, officials said. "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 Treasury Department announced sanctions on North Korea for "multiple" cyber attacks in the same day, specifically mentioning Park in its announcement of the sanctions.

USA authorities say Park Jin Hyok was part of the state-sponsored "Lazarus Group". There has been no communication between the USA and North Korean government about a possible extradition, the official said.

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

The DOJ has charged hackers in China, Iran and Russian Federation aiming to dissuade foreign powers from accommodating those who would attack USA corporations.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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