The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday indicted three North Korean programmers accused of participating in a “broad criminal conspiracy”, including cyber attacks that stole and extorted more than $ 1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrency. Among the targets were banks and major Hollywood movie studios.
According to the indictment brought before the Los Angeles Court, hackers Jon Chang Hyok, Kim Il and Park Jin Hyok also conducted spear phishing campaigns against various technology, energy and aerospace companies, in addition to attacking the State Department and the Department of Defense from the USA.
The authorities further claim that the three defendants developed and launched malicious cryptocurrency applications and administered a blockchain scheme whose investors received a stake in offshore vessels. According to the DOJ, such a practice allowed the Asian country to secretly obtain funds from investors, control interests in offshore vessels and avoid American sanctions.
The trio, who work for North Korea’s military intelligence agency, called Reconnaissance General Bureal (RGB), also undertook attacks on financial institutions and companies in South and Southeast Asia, Africa and Mexico, between March 2018 and September 2020 .
Attacks of greater repercussion
One of the accused defendants, Park had already been accused of having participated in two cases of great repercussion in the past decade. One of them was the virtual attack on Sony Pictures, carried out in 2014 as a retaliation for the release of the film The Interview, in which country leader Kim Jong-un is satirized.
He was also involved in the creation of WannaCry in 2017, a ransomware used to infect computers worldwide, in an attack of global proportions.
The other two defendants, who have ties to the Lazarus Group (also known as APT38), are believed to have also participated in these more prominent attacks.