U.S. Accuses North Korea of Plot to Hurt Economy as Spy Charged in Sony Hack

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The US has charged a North Korean National in the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, US Justice Department announced on Thursday.

North Korea is accused of orchestrating a broad conspiracy that caused hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of economic damage over the past five years in the United States and around the world.

Park Jin-hyok, a North Korean spy, was charged with computer fraud and wire fraud. CreditF.B.I., via Reuters

The suspect, Park Jin-hyok, was charged with computer fraud and wire fraud. He was part of attacks on film companies and distributors, including Sony Pictures, financial institutions and defense contractors, law enforcement officials said. He was also accused of being part of the development of the WannaCry 2.0 ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide and crippled the British health care system last year.

Mr. Park appeared to work for North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, the country’s closest equivalent to the C.I.A., according to American intelligence officials. The same intelligence agency is believed to be behind the WannaCry attack and thefts from the Bangladeshi central bank that reaped tens of millions of dollars for the North, NYTimes reports.

“The North Korean government, through a state-sponsored group, robbed a central bank and citizens of other nations, retaliated against free speech in order to chill it half a world away, and created disruptive malware that indiscriminately affected victims in more than 150 other countries, causing hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars’ worth of damage,” said John C. Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, in a statement.

“These charges will send a message that we will track down malicious actors no matter how or where they hide,” he added.

Mr. Park, who also went by the alias Pak Jin Hek, is unlikely to ever see the inside of an American courtroom. The United States has no direct, formal relations with North Korea and did not communicate with its reclusive government ahead of the charges.


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