Cyber security firm Symantec (symc) said on Monday it was “highly likely” a hacking group affiliated with North Korea was behind the WannaCry cyber attack this month that infected more than 300,000 computers worldwide and disrupted hospitals, banks and schools across the globe.
Symantec researchers said they had found multiple instances of code that had been used both in the North Korea-linked group’s previous activity and in early versions of WannaCry.
In addition, the same Internet connection was used to install an early version of WannaCry on two computers and to communicate with a tool that destroyed files at Sony Pictures Entertainment. The U.S. government and private companies have accused North Korea in the 2014 Sony attack.
North Korea has routinely denied any such role. On Monday, it called earlier reports that it might have been behind the WannaCry attack “a dirty and despicable smear campaign.”
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The thought of a mushroom cloud disturbs pateeleep. The prospect of radiation poisoning — of hazmat suits, open sores and paper cranes by empty hospital beds — sickens the soul. That rogue state North Korea is poised for a sixth nuclear test this year, and is moving ever closer to building a nuclear-armed transcontinental ballistic missile, is one of the greatest perils facing the world today — and a foreign policy priority for U.S. President Donald Trump.
But the U.S. and its allies are already under attack — one administered not from missile silos but via fiber optic cables. Everyday, Pyongyang unleashes volley after volley of cyber warfare aimed at extorting and undermining individuals, businesses and governments across the globe. The regime of “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong Un remains a penniless Stalinist fossil, but in terms of hacking prowess it’s on an even keel with the U.S., China, Russia and Israel.
The ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, and the shock firing of FBI Director James Comey, spotlights how cybercrime threatens to undermine the very fabric of our democracy. But last week’s global WannaCry ransomware attack, which has infected more than 300,000 computers worldwide, show that extortion is the primary motive of hackers. And it came as no surprise when a slew of top online security firms on Tuesday drew links between WannaCry and previous North Korean hacks. “It is similar to North Korea’s backdoor malicious codes,” Simon Choi, a senior researcher with South Korea’s Hauri Labs cybersecurity firm, told the Associated Press.
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Kim Jong-un’s quest for nuclear weapons and inter-continental missiles is rational. The ability to strike American allies, South Korea and Japan, and even the United States itself with nuclear weapons is the most obvious deterrent against any effort to end his regime. If the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons were easy to solve, the problem would have been solved long ago. In addressing the threat from North Korea, a very real threat in which the North Korean’s could develop ICBMs that could deliver nuclear weapons to the American mainland, the United States must confront two very difficult challenges.
First, the U.S. cannot act unilaterally, especially if it acts alone, without risking a devastating country strike against South Korea. Hundreds of thousands of people or more could be killed in Seoul, which is within the range of conventional weapons from North Korea. If South Korea suffered such a large loss of life as a result of a basically unilateral American strike, it would be the end not only of the South Korean-U.S. alliance but of NATO as well. No country will tie itself to the United States if the United States through its own actions can take measures that would result in hundreds of thousands of citizens in other countries being killed.
Second, China is the only country that might—and the key word here is “might”—be able to engineer a leadership change in North Korea and an end to the North Korean nuclear and missile program. If China were confident that it could alter the leadership in North Korea and introduce Chinese-like policies for economic development, it probably would have done so long ago. A greater role for China, which the Trump administration has embraced, is not a guarantee of success but it is the only possible path to success.
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Pyongyang’s test on Sunday of a new ballistic missile highlights its cooperation with Iran on missile development — leaving the Tehran regime vulnerable to further sanctions should the UN decide to act, a leading North Korea expert told The Algemeiner on Monday.
Anthony Ruggiero – a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank and former State Department official — said that the blanket prohibition on weapons trade with North Korea, agreed to by the UN Security Council in March 2016 following a nuclear test carried out by the Pyongyang regime, meant Iranian individuals and entities already sanctioned by the US government could face further sanctions imposed by the UN.
“The Iran-North Korea missile relationship was so concerning to the Obama administration that they designated Iranian officials [for sanctions] for it the day after the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” Ruggiero said. “It certainly wasn’t what they wanted to do, just as the deal was being implemented, so that gives you a sense of the seriousness of this issue.”
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Moon Jae-in was elected South Korea’s President on Tuesday upon promises to reengage with North Korea. He says that building economic cooperation with the regime of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un would help raise living standards, reducing tensions as well as the economic burden of any future reunification. And even before Moon had delivered his victory speech, this key campaign pledge was already whirring into action.
In fact, it had even before polls opened.
On May 2, South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) issued an “emergency notice” to invite firms to submit bids on potential infrastructure projects in North Korea, particularly regarding the mining sector.
“[Seoul] will develop … mines and establish power generation facilities and transportation infrastructure around mines,” the MOLIT said, according to a translation by NK News. “Profitability will be secured by owning the development rights of resources or exploiting mineral resources.”
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Iran’s unsuccessful test launch of a cruise missile from a submarine in the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday is fueling the Trump administration’s concern about the Islamic Republic’s growing military spending, as well as the Tehran regime’s long-standing cooperation with North Korea on military hardware development.
US officials said that an Iranian Yono-class “midget” submarine conducted the missile launch on Tuesday, but the test failed.
The Yono is produced by North Korea, which both exports the submarine and uses it in its own navy. A North Korean Yono submarine is believed to have launched the torpedo that sank a South Korean navy vessel in March 2010.
Tuesday’s failed test also provided US intelligence with further insight into the collaboration between Iran and North Korea on missile development, experts said.
“The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,” Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told Fox News this week. “Over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.”
Writing in the North Korea specialist publication NKPro, Tal Inbar — head of the Space & UAV center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Israel — noted that the tests recently conducted by North Korea involved precision missiles developed with Iranian military technology
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