US CHARGES NORTH KOREAN COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS IN GLOBAL HACKS
Techlife News|Techlife News #486
The Justice Department has charged three North Korean computer programmers in a broad range of global hacks, including a destructive attack targeting an American movie studio, and in the attempted theft and extortion of more than $1.3 billion from banks and companies, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The newly unsealed indictment builds off an earlier criminal case brought in 2018 and adds two additional North Korean defendants.

Prosecutors identified all three as members of a North Korean military intelligence agency, accusing them of carrying out hacks at the behest of the government with a goal of using stolen funds for the benefit of the regime. Alarmingly to U.S. officials, the defendants worked at times from locations in Russia and China.

Law enforcement officials say the prosecution highlights the profit-driven motive behind North Korea’s criminal hacking, a contrast from other adversarial nations like Russia, China and Iran who are generally more interested in espionage, intellectual property theft or even disrupting democracy. As the U.S. announced its case against the North Koreans, the government was still grappling with hacks by Russia of federal agencies and private corporations that officials say was aimed at information-gathering.

“What we see emerging uniquely out of North Korea is trying to raise funds through illegal cyber activities,” including the theft of traditional currency and cryptocurrency, as well as cyber extortion schemes, said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official.

Because of North Korea’s economic system and sanctions imposed on the country, he added, “They use their cyber capabilities to try to get currency wherever they can do that, and that’s not something that we really see from actors in China or Russia or in Iran.”

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