A North Korean programmer has been charged by US authorities over the WannaCry cyber attack.
Park Jin Hyok is accused of being part of the group that created the ransomware virus that hit 48 NHS trusts across the UK in 2017, along with organisations in more than 100 countries.
The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) said the group also “conducted cyber intrusions against multiple victims in the entertainment and financial sectors”.
The US charges relating to WannaCry are the result of evidence obtained by the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, which linked the attack to others already being investigated by the FBI.
Paul Hoare, senior investigating officer for the NCA’s investigation, said: “Colleagues in the FBI have opened charges against a single defendant alleged to be involved in a conspiracy to conduct high profile cyber attacks – including creating the WannaCry ransomware – that affected the NHS and many other organisations in the UK.”
Boeing was hit by a WannaCry cyber attack in March, while FedEx, Deutsche Post, Nissan and more than a third of NHS trusts were victims in 2017.
NCA director general (operations) Steve Rodhouse said: “The ransomware attacks that affected the UK appear to be part of a series, and it’s right that they are prosecuted together to show the full scale of offending.
“The collaboration between UK and US law enforcement has been strong and effective and these charges show that we will not tire in our efforts to identify those who believe they can hide behind a computer and cause havoc across the world, regardless of their motivation or status.
“The past year has shown that cyber attacks have real-world consequences and can cause enormous reputational and financial damage to businesses of all sizes. The Wannacry attack highlighted that cyber crime affects not just the country’s prosperity and security, but also affects our everyday way of life.
“The distinction between nation states and criminal groups in terms of cyber crime is becoming frequently more blurred and [these] charges are a significant step forward in our investigation.”
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