Park Jin Hyok, shown above, went by different aliases.
(Ministry Of Justice)
A North Korean computer programmer tied to the land of the “perfidious cyber-activities” has been charged Thursday by the Ministry of Justice for the period 2014 hack against Sony Pictures Entertainment that resulted in the disclosure of tens of thousands of leaked emails and other materials.
The accusations against Park Jin Hyok come as the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned to him and to the Chosun Expo Joint Venture, described by the Ministry of Justice as a “DPRK Government Front Company.”
“We will not allow North Korea to undermine global cybersecurity to advance its interests, and the generation of illegal income in violation of the sanctions,” finance Minister Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The United States is committed to holding the regime responsible for the cyber-attacks and other crimes and destabilising activities.”
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The exterior of the Sony Pictures Plaza building in Culver City, Calif.
The Ministry of finance said Hyok — which is about 34 years old and went by a variety of aliases, including Andoson David and Watson, Henny – “engaged in significant activities undermining cyber security by the use of computer networks or systems against targets outside of North Korea on behalf of the Government of North Korea or the Workers’ y of Korea.
“Park Jin Hyok is a part of the conspiracy is responsible for performing, among other things, the February 2016 cyber-enabled fraudulent transfer of $81 million from Bangladesh Bank, the ransomware used in the May 2017 “WannaCry 2.0″ cyber-attack, and the November 2014 cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment,” it added.
The officials say “Hyok and his co-conspirators operated from North Korea, China and elsewhere to perpetrate this malicious activity.”
Fox News reported in 2014 that the malware used in the Sony hack attack has two destructive threads: it overwrites data and it interrupts execution processes, such as a start-up features. The FBI previously warned that the malware can be so destructive that the data is not recoverable or it is too expensive a process.
“There is evidence to indicate we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor,” then-White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “And it is treated by those investigative agencies both at the FBI and the Department of Justice as seriously as you would expect.”
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The FBI has also said it detected communications between computer internet addresses known to be operated by North Korea and hacking tools left behind at the crime scene, which officials said contained subtle clues linking these tools to the North Korean government.
The Ministry of Justice in recent years has brought hackers from China, Iran and Russia in the hope of publicly shaming other countries for sponsoring cyber attacks on AMERICAN companies, according to the Associated Press.
In 2014, for example, the Obama administration charged five Chinese military hackers with a series of digital intrusions on American companies, and last year, the Ministry of Justice charged a Russian hacker with a break-in at Yahoo Inc. that affected millions of e-mail accounts.
AMERICAN officials were of the opinion that the Sony hack was in retaliation for “The Interview”, a comedy film starred Seth Rogen and James Franco, and in the middle of a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un. Sony cancelled the cinema release of the film amid threats to moviegoers, but brought it online via YouTube and other sites.
Shortly after the 2014 hack, North Korea’s state-run media agency KCNA, said it was done by “sympathizers.” Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea who writes a column for The Korea Times, says this is as close to an endorsement as possible.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and the Associated Press contributed to this report.