US charges three North Korean military hackers, and accuses one of them of being involved in Wannacry (2017) and Sony Pictures (2014) hacks
Three North Korean military hackers have been charged by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) for cyber-crimes.
The DoJ announced that the three hackers were engaged in a wide-ranging scheme to commit cyberattacks and financial crimes across the globe. Indeed, these hackers attempted to steal or extort more than $1.3bn (£940m) from banks and businesses around the world.
The three men, who are not in US custody, are also accused of deploying malicious cryptocurrency programs.
And the US DoJ also disclosed a second case in which a Canadian-American citizen has agreed to plead guilty in a money laundering scheme.
This person apparently admitted to being a high-level money launderer for multiple criminal schemes, including ATM ‘cash-out’ operations and a cyber-enabled bank heist orchestrated by North Korean hackers, the DoJ said.
“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
“The Department will continue to confront malicious nation state cyber activity with our unique tools and work with our fellow agencies and the family of norms abiding nations to do the same,” said Demers.
And the US made clear these charged hackers have been known to authorities for a while.
“Today’s unsealed indictment expands upon the FBI’s 2018 charges for the unprecedented cyberattacks conducted by the North Korean regime,” said the FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate.
“The ongoing targeting, compromise, and cyber-enabled theft by North Korea from global victims was met with the outstanding, persistent investigative efforts of the FBI in close collaboration with US and foreign partners,” said Abbate. “By arresting facilitators, seizing funds, and charging those responsible for the hacking conspiracy, the FBI continues to impose consequences and hold North Korea accountable for its/their criminal cyber activity.”
Wannacry, Sony Pictures
The three men charged in the hacking indictment filed in the US District Court in Los Angeles alleges that Jon Chang Hyok aged 31; Kim Il aged 27; and Park Jin Hyok aged 36, were members of units of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a military intelligence agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which engaged in criminal hacking.
“These North Korean military hacking units are known by multiple names in the cybersecurity community, including Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38),” said the DoJ.
Park was previously charged in a criminal complaint unsealed in September 2018, the DoJ said.
One of the defendants, Park Jin Hyok, was previously charged two years ago for his role in the 2014 hacking of Sony Entertainment Pictures.