THE US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DoJ) is has charged North Korean computer programmer Park Jin Hyok his roles in the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures and the WannaCry virus.
The DoJ on Thursday alleged that Park, also known as Jin Hyok Park and Pak Jin Hek, was part of "a wide-ranging multi-year conspiracy" led by the North Korean government and carried out multiple cyber attacks through a front organisation.
He was involved in the attacks on behalf of North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), North Korea's military intelligence agency, the indictment claims.
Along with the 2014 Sony Pictures hack and the 2017 WannaCry attack, Park has also been linked to the attempted $951m cyber heist on Bangladesh Bank and "numerous other attacks or intrusions on the entertainment, financial services, defence, technology, and virtual currency industries, academia, and electric utilities."
The DoJ claims that the North Korean was in the US just before the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment - which was carried out in retaliation to the company's production of 'The Interview', a film that mocked the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and depicted a plot to assassinate him - but left the country just before the attack commenced.
"The subjects targeted individuals and entities associated with the production of The Interview and employees of SPE, sending them malware that the subjects used to gain unauthorized access to SPE's network. Once inside SPE's network, the subjects stole movies and other confidential information, and then effectively rendered thousands of computers inoperable," claims the indictment.
The indictment also explicitly connects Park and, by extension, the North Korean government in the creation and propagation of the WannaCry virus that infected more than 300,000 computers worldwide and as many as one-fifth of NHS hospital trusts in the UK.
"While some of these computer intrusions or attempted intrusions occurred months or years apart, and affected a wide range of individuals and businesses, they share certain connections and signatures, showing that they were perpetrated by the same group of individuals (the subjects)," the indictment continues.
"For instance, many of the intrusions were carried out using the same computers or digital devices, using the very same accounts or overlapping sets of email or social media accounts, using the same aliases, and using the same cyberinfrastructure, including the same IP addresses and proxy services."
Park is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The Justice Department said a criminal investigation into Park and his accomplices is still ongoing, noting that there has been no communication between the US and North Korean government about a possible extradition.
The DoJ's announcement came on the same day that Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump tweeted about the support he has received from Kim.
"Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims ‘unwavering faith in President Trump.' Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!" he tweeted. Because of course. µ
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