DOJ to charge North Korean spy in Sony hack

Sony Hack GOP

The US government has charged a North Korean spy over last year's devastating WannaCry cyber attack and the hack that crippled Sony in 2014.

The lengthy 177 page-long complaint, detailed to reporters on Thursday, alleges that the individual, Park Jin Hyok, was working on behalf of the North Korean government in carrying out the attacks.

A month later, USA officials blamed North Korea for the attack, an accusation backed by several organisations, including one linked to the South Korean government. The FBI said spear-phishing emails were sent to various employees of defense contractors at various times through 2016 and 2017, and said that although the hackers have continued to target Lockheed Martin with repeated waves of spear-phishing, the FBI has no evidence the attempts were successful.

A North Korea-registered website bearing that company's name described Chosun Expo as the country's "first internet company", saying it was established in 2002 and employed 20 young graduates from institutions including Kim Il Sung University, Kimcheon Industrial University and Pyongyang Art University.

The Treasury Department also announced Thursday that it would impose sanctions against Park and the Korean Expo Joint Venture.

On top of the money stolen, the damage caused by the hacking attacks and malware may have cost billions of dollars, according to USA officials. In its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report released in February, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea "will pose the greatest cyberthreats to the United States during the next year".

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

The hack of the central bank of Bangladesh saw at least US$81 million stolen and transferred between a number of accounts in the Philippines and elsewhere, rendering most of it unrecoverable. "We'll continue to identify and illuminate those responsible for malicious cyberattacks and intrusions, no matter who or where they are".

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

Computers at hospitals and GP surgeries in 48 NHS trusts were frozen previous year by the WannaCry ransomware virus - which demanded a bitcoin payment for users to regain access.

The charges were filed under seal June 8, four days before President Donald Trump's historic meeting with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, to discuss ending decades of hostility between the two countries.

The sanctions block any assets in the United States and prohibit financial transactions with Park or his front company. Investigators discovered his CV and tracked his activities.

Hyok allegedly worked with the Korea Expo Joint Venture for more than a decade. Sony eventually opted not to release the film in theaters, releasing it instead via digital downloads.

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