The U.S. has publicly blamed North Korea for the WannaCry ransomware outbreak that happened earlier this year.
The WannaCry ransomware, which had struck in May this year, had impacted hundreds of thousands of computers across over 150 countries. Many leading organizations, including UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and many leading companies were affected. Now, over six months later, the U.S. has come out blaming North Korea openly for the attack.
Time reports- “President Donald Trump’s administration is publicly blaming North Korea for a ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide in May and crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service.”
Thomas P. Bossert, Homeland Security Advisor to President Trump, has authored an op-ed on The Wall Street Journal, in which he states that “…after careful investigation”, the U.S. publicly “…attributes the massive “WannaCry” cyberattack to North Korea “.
Thomas Bossert terms the WannaCry attack as “cowardly, costly and careless” and “indiscriminately reckless”; he says- “We do not make this allegation lightly. It is based on evidence. We are not alone with our findings, either. Other governments and private companies agree. The United Kingdom attributes the attack to North Korea, and Microsoft traced the attack to cyber affiliates of the North Korean government.”
The WannaCry attack, it must be remembered, had crippled systems totally, encrypting documents/data and asking for ransom. In addition to freezing computers and stalling medical procedures at hospitals across U.K., it also affected government offices in Russia, Spain and several other countries. The WannaCry outbreak also impacted universities in Asia, Germany’s national railway etc and threw out of gears business operations for automobile giants Nissan and Renault.
Thomas Bossert rightly says- “The consequences and repercussions of WannaCry were beyond economic. The malicious software hit computers in the U.K.’s health-care sector particularly hard, compromising systems that perform critical work. These disruptions put lives at risk.”
Bossert had also addressed the media at a press conference; he told the press- “This was a reckless attack and it was meant to cause havoc and destruction” He further added, “I think, at this point, North Korea has demonstrated that they want to hold the entire world at risk, whether it be through its nuclear program or cyberattacks”.
On behalf of the U.S. government, Thomas Bossert has called on governments and companies all across the world to join hands to fight cyber attacks; he pointed out that the US is leading such efforts. Bossert writes, in the Wall Street Journal op-ed- “North Korea has acted especially badly, largely unchecked, for more than a decade, and its malicious behavior is growing more egregious. WannaCry was indiscriminately reckless…Stopping malicious behavior like this starts with accountability. It also requires governments and businesses to cooperate to mitigate cyber risk and increase the cost to hackers. The U.S. must lead this effort, rallying allies and responsible tech companies throughout the free world to increase the security and resilience of the internet.”
Addressing the private sector, Bossert stresses on the need to take actions that would deny North Korea and others to launch cyber attacks. He also congratulates Microsoft for having worked to “…disrupt the activities of North Korean hackers”. He concludes on a stern note- “As for North Korea, it continues to threaten America, Europe and the rest of the world—and not just with its nuclear aspirations. It is increasingly using cyberattacks to fund its reckless behavior and cause disruption across the world. Mr. Trump has already pulled many levers of pressure to address North Korea’s unacceptable nuclear and missile developments, and we will continue to use our maximum pressure strategy to curb Pyongyang’s ability to mount attacks, cyber or otherwise.”
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