Experts question North Korea role in WannaCry cyberattack

Elizabeth Williams
May 20, 2017

Although the researchers told that we can not blame North Korea completely till the investigation of Cyber-attack.

Desperate users whose data had been taken hostage paid some US$70,000 in bitcoin to the hackers, who targeted computers that run on the Windows operating system across 150 countries. Authorities are working to catch the extortionists behind the global cyberattack, searching for digital clues and following the money.

A major attack on Sony Pictures brought the movie studio to its knees in 2014.

The Trump administration has been aggressively pressing Beijing to rein in North Korea, warning that all options are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development.

The Department of Homeland Security began an "aggressive awareness campaign" to alert the tech industry to the importance of installing the patch that Microsoft issued in March that protected users from the vulnerability exploited by the attack, a USA official working on the attack told Reuters.

Kalember said he believes the similarities in the European case, WannaCry and the miner were "more than coincidence".

Pyongyang's Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Wednesday the WannaCry virus is "raising serious concerns in the worldwide community", but did not issue a response regarding allegations of North Korea involvement. "Whoever it is, it looks very much like they are taking advantage of the NSA's tools", Becky Pinkard, a vice president at cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows, told the Financial Times.

While some of North Korea's hacking activities appear to be motivated by its cash shortage or personal retribution, the regime also conducts more traditional attacks on its southern neighbor. So investigators can follow the transactions until an anonymous account matches with a real person, said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer with the California security company McAfee.

James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said USA investigators are collecting forensic information — such as internet addresses, samples of malware or information the culprits might have inadvertently left on computers — that could be matched with the handiwork of known hackers. "We are continuing to investigate for stronger connections". The kill switch for this new variant was evidently different from the one discovered over the weekend, which greatly mitigated the damage from the initial WannaCry attack.

The Security Council, which has imposed six rounds of sanctions on the North, discussed possible further action at Tuesday's meeting.

Top South Korean government officials' smartphones were also hacked in 2016, according to the country's spy agency.

So far, the attacker behind WannaCry has made more than $49,000 (£37,900). Russian Federation was among the hardest hit, and Britain among the most high-profile, and both have “some pretty good investigative capabilities, ” Cattanach said.

Other reports by VgToday

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