USA charges North Korean hacker in Sony, WannaCry cyberattacks

The Department of Justice is charging a North Korean spy for the infamous Sony hacking that sent shock waves around Hollywood

U.S. 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.

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.

Britain's National Cyber Crime Unit said it had obtained critical evidence which was able to link the NHS attack to others already being investigated in the US.

Activity from Park's real-name Chosun Expo account and numerous accounts tied to Lazarus Group activity originated from the same Internet addresses in North Korea.

The attacks came after Pyongyang sent a letter to the United Nations, demanding that Sony not move forward with the movie "The Interview" that portrayed the US -backed assassination of a character made to look like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It also led to the cancelled release of the film The Interview. The complaint alleges Park, working for a North Korean government front company best known as Korea Expo Joint Venture, or KEJV, worked to support the North Korean government's malicious cyber activities. "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".

North Korea has denied the allegations.

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

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"The criminal conduct outlined in this case is intolerable", said Tracy Wilkison, the first assistant US attorney in Los Angeles. By July 2016, internet archival records show, the company dropped the reference to North Korea from its home page.

The Obama administration officially blamed North Korea for the attack and imposed sanctions against the country, but the Park charges are the first brought over the intrusion.

The DOJ has charged hackers in China, Iran and Russian Federation aiming to dissuade foreign powers from accommodating those who would attack USA corporations.

In 2014, the Obama administration charged five Chinese military hackers with several digital break-ins at United States companies, and previous year, the Justice Department charged Russian hackers with an intrusion at Yahoo Inc.

Officials insist that the timing of the unsealing of the criminal complaint has nothing to do with the June summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, or with the push to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

"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.

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