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

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

The suspected hacker, Pak Jin Hyok, acted on behalf of the Hermit Kingdom's Reconnaissance General Bureau, the military intelligence agency that controls most of the country's cyber capabilities, The Washington Post reported, citing USA officials.

The complaint said Park was on a team of programmers employed an organization called Chosun Expo that operated out of Dalian, China, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation described as "a government front company".

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.

Park Jin Hyok was part of a hacking group that conducted some of the most destructive recent online attacks in the world, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.

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It details how the group used multiple Gmail accounts and went to some lengths to cover their tracks but left a series of electronic breadcrumbs that ultimately led to the hackers and an email account that North Korean government officials were also seen to be using, making the connection to the government.

The charges were brought against Park as the Trump administration seeks to improve relations with North Korea.

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The charges against Park continue a strategy by the US government to generate detailed, legally admissible cases against foreign cyber-attackers who are unlikely to ever stand trial in the United States.

The Justice Department in recent years has charged hackers from China, Iran and Russian Federation in hopes of publicly shaming other countries for sponsoring cyber attacks on American corporations.

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. "Not only did the North Koreans burn down the Sony network, inflicting millions of dollars in damage, the attack was then followed by a campaign to instill fear among the American public".

In addition to targeting Sony, hackers sent spear-phishing emails to employees at AMC Theaters, which had planned to screen the movie, and to a British company producing a fictional television serious about a scientist taken prisoner in North Korea, authorities said. "We will get it done together!"

Last year, the WannaCry ransomware attack affected thousands of businesses across the globe through a computer virus that encrypted files on affected systems, including Britain's National Health Service, where nonfunctional computer systems forced the cancellation of thousands of appointments.

The North Korean government has repeatedly denied responsibility for the hack but called it "a righteous deed".

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