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U.S. charges, sanctions North Korean hacker

By Daniel Uria
U.S. charges, sanctions North Korean hacker
The U.S. government charged and sanctioned North Korean computer programmer Park Jin Hyok for his alleged involvement with the government-sponsored hacking team known as the "Lazarus Group," suspected of carrying out high-profile cyberattacks between 2014 and 2017. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice

Sept. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Thursday sanctioned a North Korean hacker accused of carrying out several high-profile digital attacks between 2014 and 2017.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned computer programmer Park Jin Hyok for hacking targets on behalf of the government of North Korea or the Workers' Party of Korea, and simultaneously sanctioned the entity he worked for, Chosun Expo Joint Venture, for being an agency, instrumentality or controlled entity of the government of North Korea.

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"North Korea has demonstrated a pattern of disruptive and harmful cyberactivity that is inconsistent with the growing consensus on what constitutes responsible state behavior in cyberspace. Our policy is to hold North Korea accountable and demonstrate to the regime that there is a cost to its provocative and irresponsible actions," the Treasury Department said.

The U.S. Department of Justice also unsealed a criminal complaint against Park, alleging he was involved in "a conspiracy to conduct multiple destructive cyberattacks around the world resulting in damage to massive amounts of computer hardware, and the extensive loss of data, money and other resources."

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The complaint alleges Park was part of a government-sponsored hacking team known as the "Lazarus Group."

Park and the Lazarus group are suspected of carrying out the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, stealing $81 million from Bangladesh Bank in 2016, creating the malware used in the 2017 WannaCry 2.0 global ransomware attack and numerous other attacks or intrusions on the entertainment, financial services, defense, technology and virtual currency industries, academia and electric utilities," the Justice Department said.

"This group's actions are particularly egregious as they targeted public and private industries worldwide -- stealing millions of dollars, threatening to suppress free speech and crippling hospital systems," FBI Director Chris Wray said.

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Park was charged with one count of with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

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