North Korea May Be Linked To WannaCry Ransomware, Researchers Say

Just as North Korea boasted about the successful launch of a nuclear-capable rocket, technology experts say they have evidence North Korean hackers could be behind another worldwide threat, last weekend's global cyber attack.

Computer code posted by Google researcher Neel Mehta showed that there were similarities between the attack last week and a vast hacking effort widely attributed to Pyongyang.

Cyber security researchers around the world have said they have found evidence that could link North Korea with the WannaCry cyber attack.

Lazarus launched an attack on the Bangladesh central bank's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY from an IP address in North Korea, according to Kaspersky Lab.

Simon Choi, a senior researcher at South Korea's Huari Labs who advises South Korean police and intelligence officials, said WannaCry's code "is similar to North Korea's backdoor malicious codes".

It is still too early to know where the WannaCry ransomware originated, and we do not yet know enough about it to conclude that North Korean cyber attackers were involved.

Since Friday, the WannaCry virus has infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries, at least temporarily paralyzing factories, banks, government agencies, hospitals and transportation systems.

But identifying hackers behind sophisticated attacks is a notoriously hard task.

In China, 66 of the country's universities were affected by the global ransomware attack, authorities said. It was then when researchers also claimed that one of the connections from North Korea was detected as well. Security researchers in the US, Russia and Israel have also reported signs of a potential North Korean link to the latest cyberattack, although there is no conclusive evidence of that.

More importantly, Scott said, the rush to blame North Korea distracts from bigger issues - software vulnerabilities resulting from manufacturers' refusal to incorporate security into their software development, organizations' failure to protect their systems and client data and the responsibility of governments to "manage, secure, and disclose discovered vulnerabilities".

In 2013, networks of major South Korean banks and broadcasters were the victim of attacks traced to North Korea.

Russian Federation has recently been accused of cyber meddling in several countries, but Putin said his country had nothing to do with the attack. The group is also thought to have been responsible for the Sony hack in 2014.

"This is a global attack", he added.

Chinese state media instead blamed the United States, and said it was "hypocritical" for the USA to accuse China of state-sponsored cyber espionage.

In Malaysia, cyber security firm LE Global Services said it identified 12 cases so far, including a large government-linked corporation, a government-linked investment firm and an insurance company.

On the other hand, the WannaCry attack hit - and annoyed - many countries.

The kingdom's electronic security agency says about 18 percent of Saudi Telecom's computers were affected by the cyberattack.

  • Zachary Reyes