North Korea possibly behind global WannaCry attack [cybersecurity experts]

"Whenever something odd happens it is the stereotype way of the United States and the hostile forces that kick off noisy anti-DPRK campaign deliberately linking with DPRK", he told a news conference at the United Nations in NY.

Investigators said they had detected code similar to that used by a shadowy cybercrime network implicated in the Sony attack, the Lazarus Group, though they stressed that more investigation was necessary.

For one thing, said IBM Security's Caleb Barlow, researchers are still unsure exactly how the malware spread in the first place. Proving they are acting under the explicit orders of a nation state is even trickier. Lazarus is associated with North Korea and has a long history of wantonly destructive behavior - most notoriously including the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment over the movie The Interview, which was seen as insulting to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

A ransomware attack that hijacked computers in vital business and services around the globe since last Friday has been linked to hackers connected to North Korea.

And a year ago, the group was accused of stealing $81 million from a bank in Bangladesh. As Symantec's researchers wrote: "While these findings do not indicate a definite link between Lazarus and WannaCry, we believe that there are sufficient connections to warrant further investigation".

Some security experts are cautiously linking the attack to the Lazarus Group, according to BBC tech reporter Dave Lee. Security researchers and government agencies have advised businesses not to pay the ransom.

As of 1400 GMT, the total value of funds paid into anonymous bitcoin wallets the hackers are using stood at just $55,169, from 209 payments, according to calculations made by Reuters using publicly available data.

That's how most ransomware finds its way onto victims' computers.

Lazarus is believed to operate from China-for North Korea.

"For now, more research is required into older versions of Wannacry". "It would represent an entirely new type of cyberattack by the DPRK". The ransomware also affected governments and other businesses.

"International society couldn't help be astonished at the unprecedented cyber attack, in terms scale and damage, and called for strengthened efforts to prevent crimes in cyber space", the report ended.

Other cybersecurity experts question the Pyongyang angle on different grounds.

Other industry giants such as Kaspersky Labs and Symantec concurred, but Choi cautioned against jumping to conclusions, warning the evidence is circumstantial. It discovered early versions of WannaCry on systems that had been compromised by the Lazarus group's tools.

But Kaspersky said false flags within WannaCry were "possible" but "improbable", as the shared code was removed from later versions. "North Korea has been a constant threat in terms of missiles and nuclear weapons", Renmin University's global relations' associate professor Cheng Xiaohe said.

Data-wiping malicious software wrecked thousands of computers at Saudi Arabia's state-run oil company Aramco in 2012 in one of the most destructive attacks in the private sector.

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