Feds Charge North Korean Cyber-Operative In Sony Hack, Ransomware Attack


The Justice Department is planning to announce charges Thursday against North Korean nationals who USA authorities have accused of being behind the massive hack of Sony in 2014 and the Wannacry ransomware attack lack year.

According to multiple media reports, the Department of Justice plans to announce formal charges against North Korean nationals in a news conference at 10AM PT. Officials will lay out a case showing a far-reaching scheme perpetrated by the isolated nation, a stance that is starkly different from the warm-and-fuzzy view of the ruthless regime expressed recently by President Donald Trump.

The U.S. Justice and Treasury Departments said Park Jin Hyok was "part of the conspiracy" that masterminded those notorious hacks "on behalf of the Government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea".

"We will not allow North Korea to undermine global cybersecurity to advance its interests and generate illicit revenues in violation of our sanctions", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Park used a series of online personas for social media platforms, including on Facebook and Twitter, to send malicious links to individuals involved in the production of "The Interview", the complaint said.

The complaint also alleges that Park was in China in 2014, but returned to North Korea shortly before the Sony attack. The U.S. believes he was working for a North Korean-sponsored hacking organization.

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United States prosecutors have charged a North Korean man alleged to have been involved in creating the malicious software used to cripple the UK's National Health Service. North Korean hackers stole and released confidential information and emails in the hack, and infamously pressured the studio to pull the theatrical release of the satirical movie "The Interview", which depicted the eventual assassination of a North Korean leader.

The hack of the central bank of Bangladesh saw at least $81 million stolen and transferred between a number of accounts in the Philippines and elsewhere, rendering most of it unrecoverable.

The indictment alleges that Park took part in these attacks, as well as attacks on including US defense contractors, university faculty, technology companies, virtual currency exchanges, and USA electric utilities, as well as attempted financial institution attacks over the past four years. 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 charges and sanctions singled out Park in some of the most notorious and damaging hacks in recent years, which had already been unofficially pinned on North Korea. The message is: "you can't hide from us".

Trump met with leader Kim Jong Un earlier this year and has sought to secure a full commitment from the country to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Hours before the anticipated announcement Thursday, Mr. Trump thanked Kim Jong Un for offering glowing words about Mr. Trump. "We will get it done together!"