North Korea Sony hack: Justice Department to announce hacking charges

Sep 07, 2018, 01:31
North Korea Sony hack: Justice Department to announce hacking charges

North Korea has been linked to some of the most high-profile cyberattacks in recent years, and its hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment lead the Obama administration to impose economic sanctionsagainst the country's government agencies and senior officials.

Confidential employee information, emails and details of some stars' earnings were revealed in the embarrassing data breach.

Experts at the time were sceptical about North Korean involvement in the leaks, but a Bloomberg report suggested a Sony internal report linked the attack to a group associated with Pyongyang known as DarkSeoul, which wiped out the computers of South Korean banks and broadcasters in March 2013.

The Justice Department has charged a North Korean cyber-operative with attacks and mayhem that prosecutors say was carried out under orders from Kim Jong Un.

U.S. officials long believed the attack was retribution for The Interview, a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader.

"The scale and scope of the cyber-crimes alleged by the complaint is staggering and offensive to all who respect the rule of law and the cyber norms accepted by responsible nations", said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.

The U.S. Justice and Treasury Departments said Park Jin Hyok was "part of the conspiracy" that masterminded those notorious hacks "on behalf of the Government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea". Sony cancelled the theatrical release of the film amid threats to moviegoers but released it online through YouTube and other sites. The depiction caused officials to complain to the United Nations and resulted in the state media of the isolated nation warning of "merciless retaliation".

The hacking collective is also blamed for the hack on Sony Pictures in 2014.

The attacks are alleged to have been carried out from North Korea, China and other countries.

The criminal complaint, filed in Los Angeles, alleges that the hackers committed several attacks from 2014 until 2018.

Activity from Park's real-name Chosun Expo account and numerous accounts tied to Lazarus Group activity originated from the same Internet addresses in North Korea. "The North Korean-backed conspiracy attempted to crush freedom of speech in the US and the U.K. It robbed banks around the world".

Park, 34, worked for a North Korean government front company called the Korea Expo Joint Venture, according to the complaint. There has been no communication between the US and North Korean government about a possible extradition, the official said.

"The department has charged, arrested and imprisoned hackers working for the governments of China, Russia and Iran".

Officials insist that the timing of the unsealing of the criminal complaint has nothing to do with the June summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, or with the push to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

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