US charges North Korean hacker in Sony, WannaCry cyberattacks

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

U.S. officials long believed the attack was retribution for The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader.

The affidavit includes new details into the methods used in the Sony Pictures attack, including spear phishing messages sent to Sony Pictures employees and "actors and other personnel associated with the movie 'The Interview, '" starting in September of 2014.

"North Korea has demonstrated a pattern of disruptive and harmful cyber activity that is inconsistent with the growing consensus on what constitutes responsible state behavior in cyberspace", the Treasury said in a statement.

Sony Pictures was targeted in another hack blamed on the North Korean group in 2014.

The Justice Department is expected to announce charges against Pak Jin Hyok, accused of hacking on behalf of North Korea's military intelligence agency; he is also allegedly linked to the Lazarus Group, which has been implicated in other cyberattacks, including the WannaCry computer virus.

USA officials believed the Sony hack was in retaliation for "The Interview," a satirical film that starred Seth Rogen and James Franco and centered on a plot to assassinate North Korean despot Kim Jong Un.

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. "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".

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Sony canceled the release of the film amid threats to moviegoers.

The indictment said that 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".

The Trump White House also announced past year that it believed North Korea was behind for the WannaCry attack, which spread rapidly through hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries last May.

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. There has been no communication between the US and North Korean government about a possible extradition, the official said. In recent years the department has charged hackers from China, Iran and Russian Federation in hopes of publicly shaming other countries for sponsoring cyberattacks on USA corporations.

No North Korean government officials were referenced in the complaint by name, though it does allege the government sponsored the attacks.

Earlier on Thursday, President Donald Trump praised North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un on Twitter.

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

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