DOJ Releases Charges Against Last of Four Top U.S. Cyber Adversaries

DD Images/Shutterstock.com

The Grand Slam charges target a single North Korean hacker for Sony, WannaCry and the Bangladeshi bank heist.

The Justice Department filed a criminal complaint against a hacker with links to the North Korean government Thursday for a slew of cyberattacks, including the 2014 strike against Sony Pictures Entertainment and the WannaCry malware attack that compromised computers across the world last year.

The complaint marks a milestone for the Justice Department, which has now taken criminal legal action against “four out of four” of the U.S.’s four main cyber adversaries, assistant Attorney General John Demers said during a news conference.

The hacker, Park Jin Hyok, was also instrumental in the digital theft of $81 billion from Bangladesh Bank in 2016, according to the charging documents.

The charges, which come more than three years after the Obama White House officially attributed the Sony hack to the North Korean regime, describe Park as part of a North Korean hacking group called the Lazarus Group but doesn’t name any other members.

Officials linked Park to the North Korean regime but did not name any government officials who directed him.

According to the complaint, Park worked for a government-linked company called the Korea Expo Joint Venture, or KEJV. The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Park and KJEV in connection with the complaint.

The Trump administration previously released a criminal charge and sanctions double punch in March against Iranian hackers targeting U.S. universities. The Treasury Department sanctioned the Russian hackers who targeted the Democratic National Committee in March after Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed indictments.

The Justice Department has not contacted the North Korean government about turning Park over, an official said.

The 179-page complaint against Park was originally filed June 8, but unsealed Thursday. Justice declined to say whether the release was delayed because of President Donald Trump’s Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later in June or efforts since then toward a nuclear détente between the two nations.

The Obama White House previously imposed broad sanctions against North Korea over the Sony hack in 2015. That marked the first time the U.S. government sanctioned a foreign nation for cyber meddling.

That attack, which leaked reams of Sony emails and unreleased films, came as the movie studio was preparing to release “The Interview,” a comedy that played the killing of Kim Jong Un for laughs.

Despite Thursday’s criminal charges, it’s highly unlikely Park will ever be arrested or face a trail in the U.S. While the U.S. has successfully extradited numerous criminal hackers from Russia and elsewhere, none of the government-linked hackers the U.S. has indicted from China, Russia, Iran and elsewhere has ever reached a U.S. courtroom.

Both the Trump and Obama administrations have struggled to demonstrate that the U.S. will punch back in a meaningful way to adversary cyber strikes while also evading the negative second and third order consequences that some of the harshest responses might draw, such as imposing serious sanctions on a major U.S. trading partner.

Officials regularly intimate that the U.S. is covertly responding to some cyber strikes.

Many cyber experts and former officials warn against the U.S. taking too many escalatory actions in cyberspace, though, because, as the world’s most digitally-connected and dependent nation, the U.S. is also the most vulnerable to large scale cyberattacks.

During a panel discussion at the Billington Cybersecurity Conference in Washington Thursday, Federal Chief Information Security Officer Grant Schneider pointed to the North Korea complaint as a model for how allied nations can work together in cyberspace.

Homeland Security cyber official Jeanette Manfra declined to discuss the complaint specifically, but said that it’s “important to hold people accountable for their actions and use the tools that the government has available.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.