Sunday, 21 January, 2018

Trump administration blames North Korea for 'WannaCry' ransomware

Australian police have arrested a man accused of working on the black market to sell missile components and coal on behalf of North Korea. Video Reuters AFP Screenshot
Erik Tate | 19 December, 2017, 10:51

The US government is officially blaming North Korea for the WannaCry ransomware attack that struck computers across the world back in May.

WannaCry was a massive cyber attack that infected vulnerable Windows machines with ransomware, locking out users from their computers.

It is the first time the U.S. has blamed the country officially for the worm.

Bossert said those responsible for carrying out cyber-attacks against the U.S. would be held accountable, but he did not mention specific actions Washington was considering taking against Pyongyang.

"The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible", he wrote.

North Korea on Tuesday rejected a recent offer by the USA for talks without preconditions, calling it a ploy to make Pyongyang give up its nuclear programme. "We are not alone with our findings, either".

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Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Washington would be willing to talk to Pyongyang without the precondition of North Korea's denuclearisation, reports Efe news. The malware targeted several hospitals in the United Kingdom, as well as banks and various other infrastructures and companies worldwide, causing malfunctions in critical sectors.

Bossert wrote that North Korea's "malicious behavior" has gone on for years and is growing more egregious.

"The consequences and repercussions of WannaCry were beyond economic", he wrote.

Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman of South Korea's Unification Ministry, which deals with matters related to North Korea, said Monday that the Seoul government was examining whether the North was behind hacking attacks on a cryptocurrency exchange in June. A few weeks ago, we charged three Chinese nationals for hacking, theft of trade secrets and identity theft.

The United States and South Korea have accused North Korea of launching a series of cyberattacks in recent years, though the North has dismissed the accusations.

Within days of the attack in May, North Korea fell under suspicion. "Mr. Trump has already pulled many levers of pressure to address North Korea's unacceptable nuclear and missile developments, and we will continue to use our maximum pressure strategy to curb Pyongyang's ability to mount attacks, cyber or otherwise".

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