U.S. imposes sanctions on North Korean hacking groups blamed for global attacks
16 Sep 2019

The U.S. Treasury on Friday announced sanctions on three North Korean hacking groups it said were involved in the “WannaCry” ransomware attacks and hacking of international banks and customer accounts.

It named the groups as Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff, and Andariel and said they were controlled by the RGB, North Korea’s primary intelligence bureau, which is already subject to U.S. and United Nations sanctions.

The action blocks any U.S.-related assets of the groups and prohibits dealings with them. The Treasury statement said any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitated significant transactions or services for them could also be subject to sanctions.

“Treasury is taking action against North Korean hacking groups that have been perpetrating cyber attacks to support illicit weapon and missile programs,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

“We will continue to enforce existing U.S. and U.N. sanctions against North Korea and work with the international community to improve cybersecurity of financial networks.”

The United States has been attempting to restart talks with North Korea, aimed at pressing the country to give up its nuclear weapons. The talks have been stalled over North Korean demands for concessions, including sanctions relief.

Earlier this month, North Korea denied U.N. allegations it had obtained $2 billion through cyberattacks on banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, and accused the United States of spreading rumors.

The Treasury statement said Lazarus Group was involved in the WannaCry ransomware attack that the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom publicly attributed to North Korea in December 2017.

By David Brunnstrom and Lisa Lambert, Reuters, 13 September 2019

Read more at Reuters

Photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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