USA charges North Korean programmer with WannaCry, other massive cyberattacks

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Another high-profile cyberattack the USA believed to be carried out by North Korea was the illicit transfer of $81m from a Bangladeshi bank in 2016.

The US Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against Park and the Chinese-based front company he worked for, Chosun Expo.

"The criminal conduct outlined in this case is intolerable", said Tracy Wilkison, the first assistant USA attorney in Los Angeles. "And it created indiscriminate malware that paralyzed computers and disrupted the delivery of medical care".

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. "Linking the DPRK to the Sony hacking is another fabrication targeting the country", said the unidentified diplomat.

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".

A North Korea-registered website bearing that company's name described it as the country's "first internet company", established in 2002.

The investigators revealed that cinema chain AMC was also targeted because it was due to show the film, as well as an unnamed British production company that was also working on a film depicting North Korea. The site later vanished from the web.

In unrelated cases, the US has previously charged hackers from Iran as well as hackers in the Chinese military.

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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.

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

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.

Mr Park is charged with one count for conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, and wire fraud.

The Treasury announcement said that Park and his co-conspirators operated from "North Korea, China, and elsewhere to perpetrate these malicious activities".

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims "unwavering faith in President Trump", the 45th president of the United States tweeted.

Trump thanked Kim on Twitter and said, "We will get it done together!"

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