WannaCry Blame Game Points to North Korea

Posted May 16th, 2017 at 1:55 pm (UTC-4)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing, China, May 13, 2017. (AP)

A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, Beijing, China, May 13, 2017. (AP)

The finger-pointing is underway in the massive WannaCry or WannaCrypt ransomware attack that affected nearly 150 countries, with security researchers suggesting North Korean hackers might be behind it and Microsoft blaming the U.S. government.

The hackers allegedly used tools leaked by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows operating system and lock down affected PCs until $300 in bitcoin ransom is paid. And while Microsoft has chided the NSA for stockpiling cybersecurity vulnerabilities, some security experts say the tech giant’s criticism is unreasonable.

There are now indications that some North Korean hackers might be behind the attack. Google security researcher Neel Meht says WannaCry appears to have code similar to work done by Lazarus Group hackers, linked to North Korea. The same group was blamed for the 2016 hack of a Bangladeshi bank and the 2014 Sony hack.

But researchers still haven’t puzzled out all the characteristics of WannaCry. So far, most experts have attributed the malware to phishing emails containing malicious links or attachments. But IBM Security’s Caleb Barlow told Reuters his team’s search through a database of more than 1 billion e-mails dating back to March found nothing relating to the attack, which is statistically unusual.

Other experts also agree that there is nothing to indicate how the first WannaCry infection took place.

In another development, the group suspected of leaking a spy toolkit used by the NSA – including some that were used in the WannaCry ransomware attack, has threatened to deploy yet another batch of spy tools.


Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

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