WannaCry cyber attack: North Korea was 'directly responsible'

WannaCry cyber attack: North Korea was 'directly responsible'

The US has officially blamed North Korea for the "WannaCry" cyberattacks that disabled hundreds of thousands of computers across more than 150 countries back in May.

"The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible", United States president Donald Trump's homeland security advisor Tom Bossert wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Thomas Bossert, counterterrorism adviser to President Trump, said the US has evidence that "cyber affiliates of the North Korean government" were involved in the attack.

"They shut down accounts the North Korean regime hackers used to launch attacks and patched systems", he said. "We need governments to come together as they did in Geneva in 1949 and adopt a new digital Geneva Convention that makes clear that these cyber-attacks against civilians, especially in times of peace, are off-limits and a violation of global law", he added.

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American tech giants Microsoft and Facebook acted recently on their own to disrupt the activities of North Korean hackers and prevent the operational execution of ongoing cyber attacks in the U.S., the White House said today. "We are not alone with our findings, either", he wrote. Other governments and private companies agree. Microsoft has since gone on to expand on this, detailing the steps taken to prevent further cyber attacks from North Korea.

With sanctions already in place and North Korea's extremely limited exposure to a response in kind all but ruling out a "cyber" response, there are few points of leverage for the U.S. government to extract any change in behavior from the North Korean government. "WannaCry was indiscriminately reckless", Bossert said. Officials, however, said they weren't going to release that evidence.

The U.S.is not the first one to accuse North Korea of being the mastermind of the attack.

Security researchers at Cybereason, Google, Kaspersky Lab, Microsoft and Symantec have also said that the tools used in the attack have been previously used by the Lazarus Group.

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"So this is allowing us to call on all likeminded and good, responsible companies to stop supporting North Korean hackers, whether they're operating in North Korea or elsewhere", Bossert said.

Cristiana Brafman Kittner, principal analyst at the cybersecurity firm FireEye, said she could not confirm whether North Korea had actually stolen any virtual currencies, but said hackers linked to it had targeted "multiple exchanges" over the past six to nine months.

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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