US government to publicly blame North Korea for the WannaCry ransomware attack

North Korean authorities have repeatedly denied responsibility for WannaCry and called other allegations about cyber attacks a smear campaign.

The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to publicly blame North Korea for unleashing a cyber attack that crippled hospitals, banks and other companies across the globe earlier this year, said two sources familiar with the matter.

Binary code is seen on a screen against a North Korean flag. Image: Reuters

Binary code is seen on a screen against a North Korean flag. Image: Reuters

The accusation that the North Korean government was behind the so-called WannaCry attack comes as worries mount about North Korea’s hacking capabilities and its nuclear weapons program.

The US government has assessed with a “very high level of confidence” that a hacking entity known as Lazarus Group, which works on behalf of the North Korean government, carried out the WannaCry attack, a senior administration official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet public.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The public condemnation will not include any indictments or name specific individuals, the official said. But the shaming is designed to hold North Korea accountable for its actions and “erode and undercut their ability to launch attacks,” the official said.

North Korean government representatives could not be immediately reached for comment. The country has repeatedly denied responsibility for WannaCry and called other allegations about cyber attacks a smear campaign.

Lazarus Group is widely believed by security researchers and US officials to have been responsible for the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which destroyed files, leaked corporate communications online and led to the departure of several top studio executives.

Sony also suspended release of a comedy film that portrayed North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong Un, because of threats issued by the hackers.

Then-US President Barack Obama condemned Pyongyang for the Sony hack, vowing at the time to “respond proportionally.” No indictments have been brought in the Sony case.

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