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US blasts blame at North Korea for WannaCry ransomware attacks

North Korea is back in the firing line for the WannaCry ransomware attack which swept across the world earlier this year, with the US publicly laying blame on the nation’s doorstep.

The WannaCry attack cropped up in May this year tearing across Windows PCs and systems, encrypting them and demanding Bitcoin payments in order to free-up the locked machines; the attack affected a swathe of NHS hospitals causing a lot of disruption.

After the attack abated, cyber security firms and government agencies started delving into the origin of the ransomware campaign and many concluded that the cyber attack was a state-sponsored affair by North Korea in order to raise money for its regime.

North Korea has vehemently denied such claims, though it has not offered any evidence in the contrary.

Now following the unveiling of a national security strategy by the US to bolster its defences against cyber attacks, Tom Bossert, President Trump’s homeland security adviser has levied blame for WannaCry at North Korea, stating how the nation was “directly responsible” for an attack that was “widespread and cost billions”.

“After careful investigation, the US today publicly attributes the massive WannaCry cyberattack to North Korea,” Bossert said writing in the Wall Street Journal.

Bossert attributed such accusations to evidence collected by the US though he didn’t produce any findings within the article to back that up. However, such claims tally with those based on evidence by other nations and cyber security organisations.

Related: Is my password safe?

And it would seem that the US is not going to take such cyber attacks lying down.

“The tool kits of totalitarian regimes are too threatening to ignore,” said Bossert.

“North Korea has acted especially badly, largely unchecked, for more than a decade, and its malicious behaviour is growing more egregious. WannaCry was indiscriminately reckless.”
He added: “As we make the internet safer, we will continue to hold accountable those who harm or threaten us, whether they act alone or on behalf of criminal organisations or hostile nations.”
This all comes at a time when tensions between the US and North Korea are already pretty high due to the latter’s nuclear programme and missile testing.

It’s worth noting that plenty of cyber security experts have said that basic IT security measures in the NHS could have prevented WannaCry from causing havoc; many of the machines affected were running outdated versions of Windows.

So Bossert’s sabre-rattling over the threat North Korea posed with the ransomware campaign may seem a tad over the top. But it does show how cyber security is an increasing concern for major nations and well as individuals.

To protect yourself from ransomware and malware attacks it’s worth ensuring you’re running the latest version of your operating system and anti-virus software of choice. And do be careful opening up dodgy emails or clicking on links to offers that seem a little to good to be true.

Related: All you need to know about Windows Defender

Who do you think was behind the WannaCry attacks? Let us know on Facebook or tweet @TrustedReviews.

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