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Park Jin-hyok, who is believed to be in North Koerea, was allegedly involved in the 2014 Sony Pictures attack, the 2016 cyber-heist of Bangladesh's central bank, and the 2017 WannaCry 2.0 virus that affected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries.

Thursday's announcement marks the first time U.S. prosecutors have brought criminal charges against an official associated with the Sony breach and other attacks, with the DOJ targeting North Korean computer programmer Park Jin Hyok. He is also alleged to have stolen $81 million from the Bank of Bangladesh in 2016.

In a statement summarizing the charges, one top Justice Department official said the attacks caused "unprecedented economic damage and disruption to businesses in the United States and around the globe".

Asked if any of Park's attacks were launched from China by North Korea, a Justice Department official said, "there's nothing in the complaint alleged on that". The complaint said there was no evidence Lockheed was breached. It also led to the cancelled release of the film The Interview.

The North Koreans also attempted similar unsuccessful online bank thefts between 2015 and 2018, worth an estimated $1 billion.

Park, whose age is not known, is charged with two counts alleging conspiracies to commit computer and wire fraud - crimes that could carry a prison term up to 25 years.

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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.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States "will not allow North Korea to undermine global cybersecurity to advance its interests and generate illicit revenues" in violation of U.S. sanctions.

The company is affiliated with the North Korean government hacking unit called Lab 110.

The affidavit includes new details into the methods used in the Sony Pictures attack, including spear phishing messages sent to Sony Pictures employees and "actors and other personnel associated with the movie 'The Interview, '" starting in September of 2014. "The North Korean-backed conspiracy attempted to crush freedom of speech in the US and the U.K. It robbed banks around the world".

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

The charges and sanctions came amid President Donald Trump's efforts to negotiate with Kim Jong Un's regime to give up its nuclear arsenal. Investigators discovered his CV and tracked his activities.

In the massive cyber attack on Sony, hackers erased data from thousands of computers and stole tens of thousands of documents, including some emails embarrassing to the higher-ups, along with several movies that were posted on file-sharing sites.


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