Wannacry hacker accused of working with North Korea, charged with conspiracy
The US has charged a computer programmer with spearheading the Wannacry ransomware attack in collaboration with the North Korean government.
The worldwide cyber attack, which happened in May 2017, ultimately infected 300,000 computers and directly affected 200,000 people.
The NHS in the UK was particularly badly affected with concerns that it could affect the health of patients treated by the service.
The FBI has accused Park Jin Hyok, its prime suspect, of carrying out the attack in addition to the hack on Sony Pictures in 2014 in retaliation for the firm releasing ‘The Interview’, a comedy film that appeared to make fun of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.
Park is believed to be somewhere in North Korea, but it emerged on Thursday he has been charged with conspiracy in a Californian court.
The FBI said Park, allegedly working for a front company for the North Korean state, also conspired to steal $81m (£63m) from a Bangladeshi bank.
The FBI’s criminal complaint also said British production company Mammoth Screen had suffered an electronic intrusion in 2014.
That came after it approved a series called ‘Opposite Number’, which involved a British nuclear scientist taken prisoner in North Korea.
The WannaCry attack was ultimately halted by 24-year-old Marcus Hutchins, from Ilfracombe, Devon.
He is currently facing trial in the US accused by the FBI of previously creating a different malware, which he denies.
Steve Rodhouse, an NCA director general, celebrated a collaboration between UK and US investigators.
“These charges show that we will not tire in our efforts to identify those who believe they can hide behind a computer and cause havoc across the world, regardless of their motivation or status,” he said.
“The Wannacry attack highlighted that cyber-crime affects not just the country’s prosperity and security, but also affects our everyday way of life.”
In August last year, £100,000 worth of Bitcoin was withdrawn from wallets associated with the Wannacry attack.