U.S. Charges North Korean in Sony Hack and WannaCry Virus Attack

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The Seth Rogen comedy The Interview, a spoof centered on North Korea with a plot about the effort to assassinate Kim, wound up being put online by hackers on the eve of its release.

Confidential employee information, emails and details of some stars' earnings were revealed in the embarrassing data breach.

In 2014, USA officials said unnamed North Korean hackers were responsible for a major cyber intrusion into Sony, which resulted in leaked internal documents and data being destroyed.

"North Korea has demonstrated a pattern of disruptive and harmful cyber activity that is inconsistent with the growing consensus on what constitutes responsible state behavior in cyberspace", the Treasury said in a statement. "Today, we add the North Korean regime to our list, completing frankly four out of four of our principle adversaries in cyberspace".

"This was one of the most complex and longest cyberinvestigations the department has taken", said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.

In a criminal complaint filed earlier this year but only made public Thursday, the DOJ alleges Park Jin Hyok was a member of a hacking group known as the "Lazarus Group" and sponsored by the North Korean government, the DOJ said in a news release. It also led to the cancelled release of the film The Interview.

The Treasury Department also announced Thursday that it is sanctioning Park, "for having engaged in significant activities undermining cybersecurity through the use of computer networks or systems against targets outside of North Korea" on behalf of the government.

Activity from Park's real-name Chosun Expo account and numerous accounts tied to Lazarus Group activity originated from the same Internet addresses in North Korea.

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A logo is pictured outside Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California December 19, 2014.

The hackers used the same aliases and accounts from the Sony attack when they sent spear-phishing emails to several USA defence contractors, including Lockheed Martin, and others in South Korea, officials said.

"The criminal conduct outlined in this case is intolerable", said Tracy Wilkison, the first assistant USA attorney in Los Angeles.

The named individual - Park Jin Hyok - often visited China to carry out legitimate computer work, the formal complaint notes, before returning to North Korea to continue his hacking work on behalf of his government.

No North Korean government officials were referenced in the complaint by name, though it does allege the government sponsored the attacks. "The North Korean-backed conspiracy attempted to crush freedom of speech in the US and the U.K. It robbed banks around the world".

"The department has charged, arrested and imprisoned hackers working for the governments of China, Russia and Iran".

It is unlikely that he will be extradited because the US has no formal relations with North Korea and the North Korean government was not notified about the charges.

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