In a First, US to Charge North Korean Spy

Christopher Polk via Getty Images

Christopher Polk via Getty Images

The target: Park Jin Hyok is accused of being part of the Lazarus Group, a hacker collective that does the bidding of North Korea's military intelligence agency.

The charges against Park Jin Hyok are a "culmination of extended and complex enquiries made by the NCA and law enforcement partners in the US", said the NCA's Paul Hoare.

"We will not allow North Korea to undermine global cybersecurity to advance its interests and generate illicit revenues in violation of our sanctions", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Confidential employee information, emails and details of some stars' earnings were revealed in the embarrassing data breach.

The Justice Department has charged a North Korean cyber-operative with attacks and mayhem that prosecutors say was carried out under orders from Kim Jong Un.

"This was one of the most complex and longest cyberinvestigations the department has taken", said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.

Sony canceled the release of the film amid threats to moviegoers.

A Sony spokeswoman declined comment Thursday. The depiction caused officials to complain to the United Nations and resulted in the state media of the isolated nation warning of "merciless retaliation".

The pair apologized. Pascal left her job months later.

North Korea has always been suspected - and accused - of having carried out the Sony hack and being behind the WannaCry ransomware but today those accusations were made formal.

The hackers used the same aliases and accounts from the Sony attack when they sent spear-phishing emails to several US defence contractors, including Lockheed Martin, and others in South Korea, officials said.

No North Korean government officials were referenced in the complaint by name, though it does allege the government sponsored the attacks. The investigation is continuing. There has been no communication between the USA and North Korean government about a possible extradition, the official said. "Not only did the North Koreans burn down the Sony network, inflicting millions of dollars in damage, the attack was then followed by a campaign to instill fear among the American public". "And it created indiscriminate malware that paralyzed computers and disrupted the delivery of medical care".

A senior DOJ official said that while no other individuals are named in the complaint, Park allegedly worked with others in carrying out the attacks. It looked in many ways like a typical tech company, boasting of its "pioneering" IT talent and customer satisfaction.

Experts at the time were sceptical about North Korean involvement in the leaks, but a Bloomberg report suggested a Sony internal report linked the attack to a group associated with Pyongyang known as DarkSeoul, which wiped out the computers of South Korean banks and broadcasters in March 2013.

The Justice Department in recent years has charged hackers from China, Iran and Russian Federation in hopes of publicly shaming other countries for sponsoring cyber attacks on American corporations.

In 2014, for instance, the Obama administration charged five Chinese military hackers with a series of digital break-ins at American companies, and past year, the Justice Department charged Russian hackers with an intrusion at Yahoo Inc.

The Treasury Department also announced Thursday that it would impose sanctions against Park and the Korean Expo Joint Venture.

The charges were brought against Park as the Trump administration seeks to improve relations with North Korea.

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