North Korea claims hacker responsible for WannaCry outbreak does not exist

The country insists the indictment of the hacker is nothing more than a smear campaign.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

A North Korean hacker allegedly responsible for debilitating cyberattacks against Sony and the global WannaCry ransomware outbreak does not exist, the country has claimed.

Park Jin Hyok, the hacker reportedly responsible for the series of attacks, was indicted by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) last week.

US officials said that Park is believed to be a member of North Korea's military intelligence outfit the Reconnaissance General Bureau, as well as a suspected member of Lazarus, a hacking group which has been linked to a string of attacks against everything from banks to government agencies.

However, if North Korea is to be believed, the hacker is nothing more than a figment of the US law enforcement's imagination.

In a statement on Friday, as reported by the Associated Press, the country -- colloquially known as the Hermit Kingdom -- denied claims that North Korea was involved in either the Sony data breach or WannaCry outbreak.

Han Yong Song, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Park is a "non-entity" and "the act of cybercrimes mentioned by the Justice Department has nothing to do with us."

The ministry added that any allegations of cyberespionage or hacking are nothing more than "vicious slander" and a "smear campaign" which has the potential to disrupt talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

The pair recently attended a summit together to ease tensions following a spat on Twitter between the world leaders, in which Trump deemed Kim "little rocket man" in relation to the country's missile program.

In turn, Kim called Trump a "mentally deranged US dotard."

See also: Trump Kim summit: Whatever happens, North Korea-US cyberwar will rage on | CNET: Inside North Korea's mysterious military

"The US should seriously ponder over the negative consequences of circulating falsehoods and inciting antagonism against the DPRK that may affect the implementation of the joint statement adopted at the DPRK-US summit," the official said, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The US is totally mistaken if it seeks to gain anything from us through preposterous falsehoods and high-handedness," the statement added.

Read on: North Korea's SiliVaccine antivirus contains stolen Trend Micro engine | How US authorities tracked down the North Korean hacker behind WannaCry | Windows warning: US exposes North Korea government's Typeframe malware | DOJ to charge North Korean officer for Sony hack and WannaCry ransomware | North Korean defectors, journalists targeted through Google Play

The US has previously blamed North Korea for the Sony breach, which took place in 2014.

Believed to be the work of North Korea in retaliation for the release of the film "The Interview," a fictitious tale in which two journalists are recruited to assassinate Kim Jong Un, the cyberattack led to the leak of terabytes of data online, damage to internal Sony networks, and lost revenue.

The WannaCry ransomware outbreak is a more recent cyberattack which caused extensive damage and disruption to businesses and organizations worldwide.

TechRepublic: North Korea is likely underwriting cyberattacks by mining Monero

The ransomware, which leveraged vulnerabilities in the Windows file-sharing protocol Server Message Block (SMB), compromised an estimated 300,000 PCs worldwide and struck organizations including the UK's National Health Service (NHS), US hospitals, and banks.

Total financial losses have been pegged at $4 billion.

North Korea's history of bold cyber attacks

Previous and related coverage

Editorial standards