IT

Researchers find links of cyberattack with North Korea

Researchers find links of cyberattack with North Korea

South Korea was mostly spared from the latest ransomware attack, partly because the constant threats have made the government and companies careful about always updating their software.

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James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a cybersecurity think tank, argues that the evidence remains "circumstantial at best", and believes WannaCry spread due to luck and negligence, not sophistication.

Prof Alan Woodward, a security expert, pointed out to me that the text demanding the ransom uses what reads like machine-translated English, with a Chinese segment apparently written by a native speaker.

Forensics, though, will only get investigators so far.

Choi is one of a number of researchers around the world who have suggested a possible link between the “ransomware” known as WannaCry and hackers linked to North Korea.

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Proofpoint executive Ryan Kalember said the authors may have earned more than $1 million, far more than has been generated by the WannaCry attack.

Very few victims of the WannaCry attack appear to have actually paid up. It advises that schools should disconnect computers from the internet and reformat them in the event that malware is detected.

Identifying hackers behind sophisticated attacks is a notoriously hard task, and proving they are acting under the explicit orders of a nation state is even trickier.

FireEye Inc, another large cyber security firm, said it was also investigating, but it was cautious about drawing a link to North Korea.

But researchers noticed one mistake: A connection that briefly came from North Korea. Kaspersky noted that false flags within "WannaCrypt" were "possible" but "improbable", as the shared code was removed from later versions.

"There's a lot of ifs in there", added Prof Woodward.

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“Since a July 2009 cyberattack by North Korea, they used the same method, ” Choi said.

Ahead of the hour and a half council session Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Washington and Beijing are discussing the possibility of additional measures on the North.

Second, North Korean cyber-attacks have typically been far more targeted, often with a political goal in mind. The group is also thought to have been responsible for the Sony hack in 2014. But then of course, maybe the ransom was a distraction for some other political goal not yet clear.

"It is actually North Korea trying to intimidate the global community", Haley said, "and Russian Federation itself should be concerned because that ballistic missile test was a signal to South Korea for their new elections, it was a signal to Russian Federation in how close it got, it was a signal to Japan being in the region, and it was a signal to us".

In early 2015, the White House announced a new set of economic sanctions to penalize North Korea over its involvement. "More details in June", it promised.

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