DOJ to announce charges against North Koreans for Sony hack, Wannacry attack

Christopher Polk via Getty Images

Christopher Polk via Getty Images

Reports at the time suggested the hackers were working on behalf of North Korea in retaliation for The Interview, a spoof which riffed on a fictional Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

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. "Some of the operational accounts were used in the name "Kim Hyon Woo" (or variations of that name), an alias that the subjects used in connection with the targeting of and cyber-attacks on SPE, Bangladesh Bank, and other victims".

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

"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 the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, John Demers.

"OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) designated the North Korean computer programmer Park Jin Hyok for having engaged in significant activities undermining cyber security through the use of computer networks or systems against targets outside of North Korea on behalf to the Government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea", an official statement by the US Treasury Department said. "If they don't, this president will act on behalf of the United States".

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. The malicious links carried North Korean-controlled malware.

North Korea has denied the allegations.

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. There has been no communication between the US and North Korean government about a possible extradition, the official said. According to the DOJ's complaint, the North Korean agent worked through a front company called Chosun Expo Joint Venture and operated out of both North Korea and China.

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

The criminal complaint, filed in Los Angeles, alleges that the hackers committed several attacks from 2014 until 2018.

It is unlikely that he will be extradited because the US has no formal relations with North Korea and the North Korean government was not notified about the charges.

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