The U.S. government has publicly blamed North Korea for executing the “WannaCry” cyberattack which affected hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries in May of this year.
While others — such as security firm Symantec and the British government — have already placed the blame on North Korea, the U.S. has just now come forward with the same conclusion. Tom Bossert, homeland security adviser to President Donald Trump, published an opinion letter in the Wall Street Journal stating as much. Bossert said the attack “cost billions” and risked lives.
Another senior administration official at the White House told Reuters to expect a more formal statement today blaming Pyongyang. The same official said the U.S. believes that a hacking entity known as Lazarus Group carried out the attack while working on behalf of the North Korean government.
[Lazarus Group was also blamed for the Sony hack of 2014. Check out our article about cyberattacks on Hollywood.]
WannaCry was a worldwide cyber attack which occurred in May of this year and had wide ranging repercussions: British hospitals were knocked offline, and companies in many other countries were also affected by the attack.
The attack targeted Windows-based computers with ransomware — infected users would find their files would be “encrypted,” and allegedly inaccessible until they made a bitcoin payment to a selected address.
As Reuters points out, some believe “the ransom threat may have been a distraction intended to disguise a more destructive intent.” Other researchers believe the ransomware was launched accidentally, as hackers were still developing the code.
Ironically, WannaCry only existed due to actions of the U.S. National Security Agency. The NSA originally discovered the Windows flaw and developed a hacking tool based on that flaw. That hacking tool was then published online by the Shadow Brokers, a group that deeply infiltrated the NSA.
It’s unclear if more specific details will be offered in a formal statement. North Korea has denied responsibility for the attacks.