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FBI Sting Hits North Korea Software That Secretly Links Vulnerable PCs for Hacking

WASHINGTON, January 31, 2019, (Source: Sputnik) —

Users of compromised computers are being notified of a North Korean botnet called Joanap, which creates vulnerable networks for the Pyongyang’s hackers, the US Department of Justice said in a press release.

“Computers around the world remain infected by a botnet associated with the North Korean Regime,” Assistant US Attorney General for National Security John Demers said. “Through this operation, we are working to eradicate the threat that North Korea state hackers”.

A search warrant allowed the FBI set up a series of computers that appeared vulnerable to the Joanap botnet to identify users of infected computers, the release said.

Using the information obtained from the warrant, the government is now notifying victims in the United States of the presence of Joanap on their computers, the release explained.

North Korea has been blamed for a number of major hacks in recent years, including the 2017 global WannaCry ransomware attack and the 2014 cyber assault on Sony.

In particular, the WannaCry ransomware attack has infected hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries. The cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment saw the hackers download the company’s confidential information, including salaries, employee personal data and unreleased movies.

Moreover, the South Korean intelligence agency said last year it obtained proof of Pyongyang’s alleged complicity in the theft of personal data of about 30,000 users of the Bithumb cryptocurrency exchange.

Pyongyang is aslo believed to have hacked South Korea’s Defense Integrated Data Center and stolen South Korean-US military operations plans against the North as well as vast amounts of other classified data. The claims were denied by North Korea.

In 2016, alleged North Korean hackers reportedly stole nearly $1 billion from the account of a Bangladeshi bank that was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Commenting on the issue, North Korea’s Deputy Envoy to UN Kim In-ryong has slammed the attempts to link North Korea with the cyberattacks as “ridiculous”.

Last year, the United States sanctioned one person and one entity from North Korea over alleged Pyongyang’s malign cyber activities.



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