Cyber Attacks Net North Korea Millions in Virtual Currencies

21 December, 2017, 01:05 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • The Wanna Cry cyber-attack that affected hospitals banks

The US has blamed North Korea for the rampant WannaCry ransomware that infected more than 200,000 victims in around 150 countries.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert said Pyongyang was "directly responsible" for the WannaCry ransomware attack.

Keeping the Russian sanctions as a basis, the U.S. government will continue to make the internet safer by holding those accountable who harm or threaten it, President's aide wrote.

The US is poised to publicly blame North Korea for carrying out an unprecedented cyber-attack that caused widespread disruption to public services, companies and homes around the world earlier this year. We are not alone with our findings, either. "Other governments and private companies agree", Bossert added. That activity started with espionage, he said, and has evolved enormously since then.

North Korea is amassing an ever-growing pile of bitcoin, likely to fund future cyberattacks, a cybersecurity CEO said. Microsoft has since gone on to expand on this, detailing the steps taken to prevent further cyber attacks from North Korea.

A series of recent cyber attacks has netted North Korean hackers millions of dollars in virtual currencies like bitcoin, with more attacks expected as global sanctions drive the country to seek new sources of cash, researchers say.

Bossert asserted that the damage from WannaCry, which did not specifically target the USA, was reduced in the U.S. because "the targets in the United States were harder, so they were suffering less", he said. And Microsoft acted to patch existing attacks, not just the WannaCry attack initially, he said.

The US government believes with a "very high level of confidence" that North Korea's so-called Lazarus Group was behind the attack, the same group behind the devastating attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 when it released a film depicting the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Bossert, seeking to downplay Hutchins's role, simply noted that "we got lucky" that an independent security researcher had triggered WannaCry's kill switch.

"We hope that they decide to stop behaving badly online", Bossert told reporters. Others were able to connect the attack to the Lazarus Group, a team of hackers with ties to North Korea.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Bossert said the attacks "put lives at risk, not just money".

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.


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