DOJ to announce charges against North Koreans for Sony hack, Wannacry attack

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The Justice Department plans to announce charges Thursday against a North Korean government spy in connection with the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, according to reports.

Thursday's announcement marks the first time United States prosecutors have brought criminal charges against an official associated with the Sony breach and other attacks, with the DOJ targeting North Korean computer programmer Park Jin Hyok.

Park is also linked to the Lazarus Group, which was also tied to the Bangladesh Bank and WannaCry actions.

Hours before the anticipated announcement Thursday, Mr. Trump thanked Kim Jong Un for offering glowing words about Mr. Trump.

In 2014, United States officials said unnamed North Korean hackers were responsible for a major cyber intrusion into Sony, which resulted in leaked internal documents and data being destroyed.

The complaint also alleges that Park was in China in 2014, but returned to North Korea shortly before the Sony attack.

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The charges were announced as President Trump and his administration negotiations with North Korea to end its nuclear program.

Park is charged with several crimes, including hacking charges, conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The Trump administration did impose other punitive measures on Park and his employer on Thursday: the Treasury Department says it has sanctioned him and Korea Expo Joint Venture. North Korean hackers stole and released confidential information and emails in the hack, and infamously pressured the studio to pull the theatrical release of the satirical movie "The Interview", which depicted the eventual assassination of a North Korean leader.

The charges against Park continue a strategy by the USA government to generate detailed, legally admissible cases against foreign cyber-attackers who are unlikely to ever stand trial in the United States.

President Trump's administration blamed the rogue regime late previous year for the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide in May 2017 and crippled parts of Britain's National Health Service. "In sum, the scope and damage of the computer intrusions perpetrated, and caused by the subjects of this investigation, including PARK, is virtually unparalleled", said FBI Special Agent Nathan Shields in an affidavit filed in June associated with the indictment.

Then-White House cybersecurity czar Tom Bossert said during a press conference last December that the USA agreed with several other countries' assessments that North Korea was responsible for WannaCry. "Cyber war gives outsized opportunities to North Korea and it's important to push back".

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