North Korean hacker charged with Sony, WannaCry attacks

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The named individual - Park Jin Hyok - often visited China to carry out legitimate computer work, the formal complaint notes, before returning to North Korea to continue his hacking work on behalf of his government.

The US government has charged a North Korean spy over last year's devastating WannaCry cyber attack and the hack that crippled Sony in 2014.

The hackers used the same aliases and accounts from the Sony attack when they sent spear-phishing emails to several USA defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, and others in South Korea, officials said.

The Trump administration did impose other punitive measures on Park and his employer on Thursday: the Treasury Department says it has sanctioned him and Korea Expo Joint Venture.

The department also sanctioned the agency, stating that all property and interests of both Chosun Expo and Park within the US or in the possession of USA citizens must be frozen.

"We will not allow North Korea to undermine global cybersecurity to advance its interests and generate illicit revenues in violation of our sanctions", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Mnuchin added the U.S.is committed to "holding the regime accountable for its cyberattacks and other crimes and destabilizing activities".

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Although the U.S. previously blamed North Korea for the both the WannaCry and Sony Picture cyber attacks, this is the first time federal investigators have publicly named a suspect in the crimes.

US officials believed the Sony hack was retribution for "The Interview", a comedy film that starred Seth Rogen and James Franco and centered on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un.

Park Jin Hyok was part of a hacking group that conducted some of the most destructive recent online attacks in the world, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.

It's been a year and half since he launched a ransomware attack that hit hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe. Prosecutors said the complaint was sealed for a variety of reasons and wasn't done to prevent derailing the Singapore talks.

USA prosecutors have charged a North Korean man alleged to have been involved in creating the malicious software used to cripple the UK's National Health Service.

The Justice Department said it had linked Park and others to the schemes by tracing email and social media accounts.

It was not immediately clear what effect they might have on those diplomatic efforts - whether, for example, North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un might walk away. "Despite efforts to hide his identity and the subjects' efforts to isolate the Chosun Expo Accounts from operational accounts that they used with aliases to carry on their hacking operations", the Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit states, "there are numerous connections between these sets of accounts".

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