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WannaCry cyberattack: White House adviser says North Korea was behind ransomware rampage

Kim Jong Un (Balkis Press/Abaca Press/TNS)
December 19, 2017

North Korea was behind the massive WannaCry cyberattack that crippled thousands of computers around the world in May, said Thomas P. Bossert, homeland security adviser to President Trump.

Bossert wrote in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal published Tuesday that “after careful investigation, the U.S. today publicly attributes the massive ‘WannaCry’ cyberattack to North Korea.”

The attack in mid-May affected more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries, most notably crippling more than 20% of hospitals in the United Kingdom.

The software, which spread among Windows computers, particularly those using older operating systems, infected and locked up individual machines and demanded a $300 ransom to be paid in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The attack mostly affected computers in Europe and Asia and largely spared North America.

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

“We do not make this allegation lightly. It is based on evidence. 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.”

Soon after the attack, experts at the global cyber-security firm Symantec found that earlier versions of the WannaCry ransomware were found on computers that also bore evidence of the cyber tools used against Sony Pictures Entertainment, banks in Poland and Bangladesh’s central bank. All of those attacks were linked to North Korea.

A researcher at Google also singled out an identical code used both in the ransomware and used by the Lazarus Group, a team of hackers tied to North Korea, noted Symantec.

Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, Melanie Eversley

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© 2017 USA Today

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.