US Charges North Korean Hacker in Sony, WannaCry Cyber-Attacks

US Charges North Korean Hacker in Sony, WannaCry Cyber-Attacks

US Charges North Korean Hacker in Sony, WannaCry Cyber-Attacks

The Department of Justice announced charges Thursday against a North Korean government-sponsored hacker over the 2014 Sony Pictures hack. Park was also cited by USA officials as part of a conspiracy that conducted the fraudulent transfer of $81 million from the central bank of Bangladesh in February 2016.

The charges are the first against a North Korean cyber operative, according to the Washington Post, which broke the story along with ABC News.

A senior DOJ official said that while no other individuals are named in the complaint, Park allegedly worked with others in carrying out the attacks.

In December 2014, Sony was left reeling by a cyber-attack on its film-making studio that exposed five of its upcoming movies, including the big-budget musical remake Annie - released online to file-sharing sites by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace. The investigation is ongoing, the official said, adding that the complaint involves activity through 2018. The hackers demanded that Sony cancel the release of "The Interview", starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, and threatened violence against theaters that showed the film, prompting many cinemas to cancel engagements of the movie. "The North Korean-backed conspiracy attempted to crush freedom of speech in the US and the U.K. It robbed banks around the world".

Cybersecurity experts have said portions of the WannaCry program used the same code as malware previously distributed by the hacker collective known as the Lazarus Group, which is believed to be responsible for the Sony hack.

Park, who USA officials believe is now in North Korea, faces charges that include conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The US government acknowledged that it is unlikely to get their hands on Park Jin Hyok - his last known location was North Korea and the US does not have an extradition treaty with the dictatorship - but argued it was still important to name him and lodge a formal complaint.

Also Thursday, the Treasury Department is expected to announce sanctions on North Koreans linked to the attacks.

The charges come as the Trump administration seeks a denuclarization agreement with the North Korean government.

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

The sophisticated operation involved the use of false websites for Facebook and Google to fool unsuspecting computer users into downloading malware that gave the North Koreans access.

The attack most notably locked up the systems of Britain's National Health Service, causing significant damage.

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.

WannaCry affected hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries previous year and the Sony Pictures hack resulted in leaked films, scripts, employee information, internal emails and company passwords.

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