U.S. Charges North Korean in Sony Hack and WannaCry Virus Attack

Plaza building in Culver City

Plaza building in Culver City

Actor Randall Park playing Kim Jong-Un in the Sony Pictures movie The Interview-a movie hackers didn't leak.

In 2014, U.S. 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.

"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.

"This was one of the most complex and longest cyberinvestigations the department has taken", said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.

The charges against Park Jin Hyok allege the group he was involved with were behind several attacks from 2014 until 2018, including a fraudulent transfer of $81m (£62m) from a Bangladeshi bank in 2016. Sony was responsible for The Interview, a fictionalized assassination of North Korea's leader.

The Treasury Department also announced Thursday that it is sanctioning Park, "for having engaged in significant activities undermining cybersecurity through the use of computer networks or systems against targets outside of North Korea" on behalf of the government.

They named one of the group - called the Lazarus Group by security companies fighting to combat its actions - and put his name, Park Jin Hyok, and face on an FBI Wanted poster, adding that he is now considered a fugitive from justice.

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The hacking collective is also blamed for the hack on Sony Pictures in 2014. "Despite efforts to hide his identity and the subjects' efforts to isolate the Chosun Expo Accounts from operational accounts that they used with aliases to carry on their hacking operations", the Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit states, "there are numerous connections between these sets of accounts".

North Korea has denied the allegations.

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

The Associated Press reported that a North Korean who is believed to have operated out of China will be among those charged. There has been no communication between the USA and North Korean government about a possible extradition, the official said.

Officials state in the complaint that Park was working for a front company named the Korean Expo Joint Venture, which worked on behalf of North Korean intelligence and was charged with generating revenue for the military branch. 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 US corporations.

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.

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