U.S. blames North Korea for massive cyberattack

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After “careful investigation,” the Trump administration is blaming North Korea for May’s crippling cyberattack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide and debilitated parts of Britain’s National Health Service.

According to Thomas P. Bossert, homeland security adviser to President Donald Trump, North Korea was responsible for the massive “WannaCry” ransomware attack.

In an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal, Bossert wrote, “[A]fter careful investigation, the U.S. today publicly attributes the massive ‘WannaCry’ cyberattack to North Korea.”

More than 200,000 victims in 150 countries were affected by the attack, most notably those using computers in more than 20 percent of hospitals in the United Kingdom.

Mostly affecting computers in Europe and Asia, the malware, which spread among Windows computers — particularly those using older operating systems — infected and disabled individual machines and demanded a $300 ransom to be paid in the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, to restore system operations.

“The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible,” wrote Bossert.

“We do not make this allegation lightly. It is based on evidence,” Bossert continued. “We are not alone with our findings, either. Other governments and private companies agree. The United Kingdom attributes the attack to North Korea, and Microsoft traced the attack to cyber affiliates of the North Korean government.”

Following the attack, experts at the global cyber-security firm, Symantec, discovered that earlier versions of the WannaCry ransomware were found on computers that also exhibited evidence of the cyber weapons used against Sony Pictures Entertainment, banks in Poland and the central bank in Bangladesh. All those attacks were later linked to North Korea.

Symantec noted that a researcher at Google also identified an identical code used in the WannaCry ransomware and by the Lazarus Group, a team of hackers associated with North Korea.

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