Published: Fri, September 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Federal Bureau of Investigation charges North Korean Park Jin Hyok over WannaCry, Sony cyberattacks

Federal Bureau of Investigation charges North Korean Park Jin Hyok over WannaCry, Sony cyberattacks

In 2014, USA 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.

The FBI released this photo of Park Jin Hyok of North Korea, who is wanted in connection with the hack of Sony Pictures.

The email services were used for routine business as well as for phishing attacks and other crimes by a company identified as the Korean Expo Joint Venture that's a front group for the North Korean government, according to a Justice Department complaint filed in Los Angeles on Thursday. The malicious links carried North Korean-controlled malware.

The charges were announced as President Trump and his administration negotiations with North Korea to end its nuclear program. Authorities have said previously that North Korea was responsible for the cyber-attack. 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 United States electric utilities. 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.

In the attack on Bangladesh Bank, described as the largest cybertheft from a financial institution, the hackers stole $81 million, according to the complaint.

The attack did not target the NHS specifically: about 300,000 computers at businesses and organisations in more than 100 countries were affected.

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The North Korean hacker has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and another count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

"This group's actions are particularly egregious as they targeted public and private industries worldwide - stealing millions of dollars, threatening to suppress free speech, and crippling hospital systems", FBI Director Christopher Wray said. In other cases the hackers created email accounts in the names of recruiters or high profile execs at one company (like a U.S. defense contractor), and then used the accounts to send bogus recruitment messages to employees of competitor companies.

Computers at hospitals and GP surgeries in 48 NHS trusts were frozen a year ago by the WannaCry ransomware virus - which demanded a bitcoin payment for users to regain access. The depiction caused officials to complain to the United Nations and resulted in the state media of the isolated nation warning of "merciless retaliation". Investigators discovered his CV and tracked his activities.

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

Hyok allegedly worked with the Korea Expo Joint Venture for more than a decade.

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