Washington blames N. Korea for massive spring cyberattack

Trevor Jackson
December 21, 2017

U.S. officials have publicly blamed North Korea for the devastating "WannaCry" cyberattack that affected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world earlier this year.

Thomas Bossert, counterterrorism adviser to President Trump, said the USA has evidence that "cyber affiliates of the North Korean government" were involved in the attack.

"They want to hold the entire world at risk", Bossert said of North Korea's rulers, referring to the nation's nuclear and missile provocations as well as its alleged cyberattack. He has ordered the modernization of government information-technology to enhance the security of the systems we run on behalf of the American people.

The hackers behind the second attack were not identified, but one cyber security researcher, who said he was not authorized to speak about the matter as it was being investigated, said there were similarities between the Youbit hack reported on Tuesday and the earlier attack on the company, which has been linked to North Korea. "We are not alone with our findings, either", he added.

"Microsoft and Facebook and other major tech companies acted to disable a number of North Korean cyber exploits and disrupt their operations as the North Koreans were still infecting computers across the globe".

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He said it's also an opportunity to call on the other countries in the region that were affected to mobilise them to stop that same behaviour. "The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible". He noted that the Trump administration has banned the use of Kaspersky software from government systems over concerns that the software could abet Russian espionage, and that the government has also charged Iranian hackers who attacked U.S. companies such as HBO. "WannaCry was indiscriminately reckless". We share nearly all the vulnerabilities we find with developers, allowing them to create patches. "When we must, the USA will act alone to impose costs and consequences for cyber malfeasance", he added.

With a "very high level of confidence", the US government affirmed a hacker group that goes by the name "Lazarus Group", which works for North Korea, carried out the attack. "It's, nevertheless, important to call them out to let them know that it's them and we know it's them", he said. So he bought it, and effectively activated a kill switch and ended the spread of WannaCry.

The National Security Agency linked North Korea to the worm's creation in June.

Bossert, who serves as President Donald Trump's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, lamented that there is not much more that can be done to restrict North Korea's behavior, considering the Pyongyang regime already faces severe sanctions in many areas.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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