In a First, US to Charge North Korean Spy

Clark ByrdSep 07, 2018

The group is also deemed to be behind denial-of-service attacks against the government, banks, and media companies in South Korea.

The attack took place before the release of the comedy film The Interview, which depicts a fictional Central Intelligence Agency plot to kill North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.

He was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and another count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The complaint said Park was on a team of programmers employed an organization called Chosun Expo that operated out of Dalian, China, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation described as "a government front company".

The hackers used the same aliases and accounts from the Sony attack when they sent spear-phishing emails to several US defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, and others in South Korea, officials said.

Also known as Korea Expo Joint Venture, Chosun Expo is believed to be connected to the RGB's Lab 110; while it provides legitimate programming-for-hire services to foreign customers, the company also is alleged to be home to the Lazarus Group-the malware and hacking group that has been previously connected by U.S. intelligence and private sector security researchers to the Sony attack, the theft of $81 million from Bangladesh Bank through the SWIFT system (part of an attempted $1 billion theft), and the WannaCry malware.

The investigators revealed that cinema chain AMC was also targeted because it was due to show the film, as well as an unnamed British production company that was also working on a film depicting North Korea. The move came as Washington seeks to get traction in negotiations with Pyongyang over halting its nuclear weapons program.

The cyber-theft of a huge amount of files from Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 saw the company lose control of private communications between top executives, personal data of thousands of employees and customers, and scripts and information on upcoming films.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims "unwavering faith in President Trump", the 45th president of the United States tweeted.

The malicious activities attributed to Park and his group include the cybertheft of $81 million from the Bangladesh Bank. "We will get it done together!"

WannaCry 2.0 was ransomware which spread virulently around the world in May 2017, infecting some 300,000 computers in 150 countries.

It details how the group used multiple Gmail accounts and went to some lengths to cover their tracks but left a series of electronic breadcrumbs that ultimately led to the hackers and an email account that North Korean government officials were also seen to be using, making the connection to the government.

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.

Last December the North Korean government called allegations that it was behind the ransomware "absurd" and a "grave political provocation".

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