N. Korea Suspected in WannaCry Attacks

According to the cyber security detectives, they have found procedural indication which could relate North Korea with the global WannaCry "ransomware" cyber-attack.

Security researchers in the US, Russia and Israel have also reported signs of a potential North Korean link to the latest cyberattack, although there is no conclusive evidence yet.

Specially, no U.S. federal systems are affected, he said.

Symantec and Kaspersky Lab said on Monday some code in an earlier version of the WannaCry software had also appeared in programs used by the Lazarus Group, which researchers from many companies have identified as a North Korea-run hacking operation. The Lazarus Group has been accused of launching attacks against South Korean institutions in 2013, Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, and the SWIFT financial system in 2016.

"I saw signs past year that the North was preparing ransomware attacks or even already beginning to do so, targeting some South Korean companies", he told AFP.

It is widely believed that the Lazarus Group worked out of China, but on behalf of the North Koreans.

"I believe that this was spread for the objective of causing as much damage as possible", said Matthew Hickey, a co-founder of British cyber consulting firm Hacker House. The damage wreaked in recent days could well escalate into the billions of dollars, security experts say, particularly now that any criminal, terrorist, or nation state has the ability to tease the tools apart and retrofit them into their own hacking tools.

The Lazarus Group has repeatedly been linked to North Korea. "More info to come".

Seoul police blamed the North's main intelligence agency for the attack.

Brian Lord, managing director of cyber and technology at cyber security firm PGI, said victims had told him "the customer service provided by the criminals is second-to-none", with helpful advice on how to pay: "One customer said they actually forgot they were being robbed".

"We are not aware of payments that have led to any data recovery", White House Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert said at a daily briefing.

"This was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold ransom data", he said, noting that no USA government systems had been hit.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier had suggested the United States bore responsibility.

'Once they're let out of the lamp, genies of this kind, especially those created by intelligence services, can later do damage to their authors and creators, ' he told reporters in Beijing.

Russian Federation has recently been accused of cyber meddling in several countries, but Putin said his country had nothing to do with the attack. Shipping company FedEx also confirmed it was hit by the attack. The attackers demanded money to unblock their computers.

"It remains critical that all organizations immediately ensure they have the most updated patches deployed and backups ready to restore in the event of a ransomware attack", Kalember said.

In the current attack, hackers demand payment from victims in bitcoins to regain access to their encrypted computers.

Bossert said that paying the ransom provided no guarantee files would be unlocked.

It's possible that someone is impersonating the group, though Kaspersky claims this is "improbable".

The attack is unique, according to Europol, because it combines ransomware with a worm function, meaning once one machine is infected, the entire internal network is scanned and other vulnerable machines are infected.

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