NSA: North Korea conducted the WannaCry cyber attack

While previously believed, the National Security Agency (NSA) now states it has sufficient evidence to declare North Korea as responsible for the devastating WannaCry cyber attack.

The cyber attack used ransomware to lock many users around the world out of their computers. While unlikely to be intentionally targeted, this included critical systems vital to the running of the UK’s health service.

In fact, experts believe the ransomware was intended to go under the radar but spread out of control. This brought unwanted attention from international authorities and private cybersecurity experts.

The announcement came in the form of an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal authored by President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Advisor, Thomas Bossert. The White House will be issuing a formal statement tomorrow.

Bossert wrote in the op-ed:

We do not make this allegation lightly. It is based on evidence. We are not alone with our findings, either. Other governments and private companies agree. The United Kingdom attributes the attack to North Korea, and Microsoft traced the attack to cyber affiliates of the North Korean government.

The consequences and repercussions of WannaCry were beyond economic. The malicious software hit computers in the UK’s health-care sector particularly hard, compromising systems that perform critical work. These disruptions put lives at risk.

‘Paid in Bitcoin’

WannaCry demanded a bounty of $300 per infected PC and threatened it would double to $600 if the ransom was not paid within three days. The amount had to be paid in Bitcoin.

This use of Bitcoin raised further suspicion of North Korea’s involvement due to the cryptocurrency becoming a favourite of the hermit state. International sanctions over the country’s development of nuclear weapons have restricted the country’s ability to trade freely, so the anonymous currency is expected to be helping to keep transactions under the radar.

Researchers in South Korea, which hosts some of the world’s busiest virtual currency exchanges — and accounts for 15 to 25 percent of world bitcoin trading on any given day — say attacks this year on exchanges like Bithumb, Coinis, and Youbit have the digital fingerprints of hackers from North Korea.

Around $7 million dollars worth of Bitcoin were stolen in those attacks. However, due to the phenomenal growth in value of Bitcoin over the past year, that amount is now worth around $82 million.

What are your thoughts on the latest WannaCry revelations? Let us know in the comments.

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