Today the U.S. Justice Department is expected to announce charges against Pak Jin Hyok, an alleged North Korean spy, in the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures and the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack. Pak is part of North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, a military intelligence group.
The charges are the first against a North Korean cyber operative, according to the Washington Post, which broke the story along with ABC News. Pak apparently has connections to numerous attacks around the globe, including the WannaCry ransomware attack, and is also allegedly linked to Lazarus Group, which has orchestrated attacks on the South Korean government.
The U.S. Treasury Department is also reportedly ready to issue new sanctions against the perpetrators of the attack, though it’s not immediately clear how many people will be targeted. Both the Justice Department and the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Gizmodo.
When Sony Pictures’s internal servers were hacked in November of 2014, exposing early edits of various TV shows and countless sensitive emails, there was speculation that the North Koreans may have been behind it as retaliation for the movie The Interview. That comedy film depicted a graphic assassination of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, and was denounced by the country.
The WannaCry ransomware attack targeted anyone using Windows computers in May of 2017 with demands to send cryptocurrency. The cryptoworm hijacked computers and told users that they could get their data back if they sent money. Microsoft released a patch to defend against WannaCry, but over $130,000 was sent to the hackers before the ordeal was over.
President Trump, for his part, has been on cozy terms with the North Korean dictator ever since their joint photo-op at a historic summit in June of this year. Trump even sent out a tweet this morning thanking Kim for saying nice things about him. These new charges will surely put a hamper on Trump’s ability to get in bed with North Korea.
Update 2:03pm ET: The DOJ has officially announced the charges in a press release on its site.