The US government has recently stated that North Korea was the country responsible for the WannaCry ransomware attacks earlier this year, plaguing over 230,000 computers in over 150 countries. The allegation was made by Thomas Bossert, who serves under President Donald Trump as Homeland Security Advisor.
Homeland Security didn’t make the allegation lightly, alluding to NSA work that helped them come to this conclusion. The United Kingdom has made similar findings as well, pinning the attack on North Korea, and even Microsoft tracked the attack to the Communist regime as well.
WannaCry’s impacts were widespread, hitting everything from major telephone companies to shutting down hospitals and clinics in the UK or even disrupting FedEx’s logistical operations within the United States.
The ransomware would infect your computer, encrypting the contents on the computer and requiring a ransom, paid in bitcoin, in order to decrypt it. At least that’s what the victims assumed, but that simply wasn’t the case.
“While victims received ransom demands, paying did not unlock their computers,” the homeland security adviser said. “It was cowardly, costly and careless. The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible.”
The statement was made late on December 18, and the advisor is expected to follow up with more regarding the topic.
The worm would then go on to infect others by exploiting file-sharing capabilities through a security loophole in Windows operating systems that allowed the code to spread freely without user permission.
In total, the ransomware collected 52.2 bitcoin, worth around $143,000 at the time of the attacks earlier in 2017. Now, that same amount is worth almost $10 million, thanks to the surge the cryptocurrency has experienced in the last couple of weeks.
If allegations are true, this wouldn’t be the first time North Korea has caused malicious cyber activity. In 2014, Sony was hacked with their corporate emails and finances leaked, due to the upcoming release of The Interview, which depicted Kim’s assignation.
The Obama administration at the time imposed economic sanctions on North Korea, and Trump looks to continue that precedent, being just as hard, if not harder, on the Communist state. “Mr. Trump has already pulled many levers of pressure to address North Korea’s unacceptable nuclear and missile developments, and we will continue to use our maximum pressure strategy to curb Pyongyang’s ability to mount attacks, cyber or otherwise.”