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US Sanctions 3 North Korean Hacking Groups Responsible For Global Cyber Attacks

US Sanctions 3 North Korean Hacking Groups Responsible For Global Cyber Attacks
Three North Korean hacking groups have been identified by the United States to have been behind the "WannaCry" ransomware attacks as well as involved in the hacking of international banks and customer accounts and the US Treasury announced sanctions on the hacking groups on Friday.
The groups were named as Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff, and Andariel by the US. The treasury department said that the hacker groups were controlled by North Korea's primary intelligence bureau the RGB, which has already been sanctioned by the US and United Nations.
All of the assets of the groups related to the United are blocked and no dealing with the groups can be done according to the sanctions. US sanctions could also be imposed on any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitated significant transactions or services for the groups, said the statement from the Treasury Department.
"Treasury is taking action against North Korean hacking groups that have been perpetrating cyber attacks to support illicit weapon and missile programs," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
"We will continue to enforce existing US and UN sanctions against North Korea and work with the international community to improve cybersecurity of financial networks."
There are ongoing attempts by the United States to restart negotiations with North Korea with the aim of completely disarming the Asian country from its nuclear weapons. The talks have been stalled however because North Korea has been demanding concessions from the US and other world powers which include relief from sanctions.
Earlier, the US had alleged that by organizing cyberattacks on banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, North Korea had amassed as much as $2 billion. That allegation has been denied by North Korea and which has instead alleged that the United States is engage din spreading rumors.  
The US had found involvement of the Lazarus Group in the now infamous WannaCry ransomware attack that was publicly blamed on North Korea in December of 2017 by the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, said the statement from the US Treasury Department.
The statement said that at least 150 countries were affected by the WannaCry attack which has caused the remote shutdown of about 300,000 computers which included systems in the Britain's National Health Service (NHS). This attack the UK NHS resulted in the cancellation of more than 19,000 appointments and the ultimate cost of the attack to the body was more than $112 million which amounted to be the largest known ransomware attack in the history of the world.
The 2014 cyber-attacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment were also directly organized by the Lazarus Group, the Treasury said.
The statement further said, citing industry and press reports, that attempts to decamp over $1.1 billion from financial institutions had been made by Bluenoroff by 2018 and the group was also responsible for successful cyber attacks on banks in Bangladesh, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Chile, and Vietnam. In the incident of stealing of about $80 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh’s New York Federal Reserve account, the Bluenoroff also played a vital role for the Lazarus Group, the statement said.
On the other hand, the statement identified Andariel as the steal bank card information by hacking into ATMs to withdraw cash or steal customer information hacker group that attempted to sell them in the black market and make money.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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