America to North Korea: We've spied your hacking spy

Christopher Polk via Getty Images

The Justice Department has announced the indictment of a North Korean agent for both the theft of data and "wiper" attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 and the worldwide "WannaCry" malware attack of May, 2017.

Park Jin Hyok was part of a hacking group that conducted some of the most destructive recent online attacks in the world, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.

The charges, part of a strategy by the USA government to deter future cyberattacks by naming and shaming the alleged perpetrators, also alleged that the North Korean hacker broke into the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016, according to a criminal complaint. The complaint said there was no evidence Lockheed was breached.

Specifically, Park has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The indictment said that Park was on a team of programmers employed an organization called Chosun Expo that operated out of Dalian, China, and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation described as "a government front company".

The charges were brought against Park as the Trump administration seeks to improve relations with North Korea.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims "unwavering faith in President Trump", the 45th president of the United States tweeted.

US officials believe the Sony hack was retribution for "The Interview", a comedy film that starred Seth Rogen and James Franco and centred on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un. "We will get it done together!"

The Treasury Department on Thursday also is expected to announce sanctions on North Koreans tied to the malicious activities, according to the newspaper.

Leaked emails from the hack showed company chiefs giving unvarnished opinions on some of Hollywood's top stars and resulted in the departure of at least one official.

It details how the group used multiple Gmail accounts and went to some lengths to cover their tracks but left a series of electronic breadcrumbs that ultimately led to the hackers and an email account that North Korean government officials were also seen to be using, making the connection to the government.

Numerous efforts were made to break into banks started in 2015, it was revealed, with the most successful being the removal of $81m from Bangladesh Bank in February 2016.

It infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries and was considered unprecedented in scale at the time, knocking British hospitals offline and disrupting FedEx's IT networks.

It encrypted user files and offered to free them in exchange for hundreds of dollars each.

Computers at hospitals and GP surgeries in 48 NHS trusts were frozen previous year by the WannaCry ransomware virus - which demanded a bitcoin payment for users to regain access.

Last December the North Korean government called allegations that it was behind the ransomware "absurd" and a "grave political provocation".

Park Jin Hyok is said to be linked to the Lazarus Group.

Related news: