US Fingers North Korea for WannaCry Epidemic | Cybersecurity

By John P. Mello Jr.

Dec 20, 2017 9:52 AM PT

The United States on Tuesday accused North Korea of duty for a worldwide ransomware assault that locked down greater than 300,000 computer systems in 150 international locations earlier this 12 months.

The U.S. now has sufficient proof to assist its assertion that Pyongyang was behind the WannaCry assault in May, Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert instructed reporters at a White House press briefing.

Bossert made the identical accusation in an op-ed printed Monday in The Wall Street Journal.

If the United States has new proof linking North Korea to WannaCry, nevertheless, it hasn’t launched any of it to the general public, which might pose issues.

“Accurate attribution for cyberattacks is almost always a difficult task, and it’s doubly so when the evidence leading to the conclusion can’t be shared,” famous Tim Erlin, vice president of product administration and technique at Tripwire.

“If we’re going to have national security organizations delivering these types of conclusions on attribution to the public, we need to find a way to develop trusted output. The mantra of ‘trust us’ doesn’t cut it here,” he instructed TechNewsWorld.

The Problem With Attribution

Speculation has related North Korea to WannaCry since June, when the NSA stated it believed Pyongyang was behind the assault. The British government reached the identical conclusion in October, and the CIA concurred in November.

While there may be proof indicating that North Korea launched the ransomware virus, that proof is not definitive, maintained James Scott, a senior fellow on the
Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology.

“It is important to understand that attribution is rarely definitive because adversaries can easily obfuscate their actions using technical anti-analysis maneuvers,” he instructed TechNewsWorld.

“They plant false indicators to mislead attribution,” he continued. “They leap-frog through multiple foreign networks and systems, they outsource layers or the entirety of their attacks to cyber mercenaries, and they utilize malware available to multiple adversaries from Deep Web markets and forums.”

Lazarus Connection

One robust indicator of North Korea’s involvement with WannaCry is the malware’s connection to the Lazarus Group, which has been tied to Pyongyang, noticed Chris Doman, a risk engineer at

There are two information factors that hyperlink Lazarus to WannaCry, he instructed TechNewsWorld: a lot of uncommon code overlaps exist within the applications; and Lazarus planted an early model of WannaCry on a Symantec buyer.

“The U.S. government may have additional information, but the evidence provided at the time by the private sector was pretty strong,” Doman stated.

The proof linking Lazarus to Pyongyang is equally robust, he added.
“There are a very small number of publicly assigned Internet addresses assigned to North Korea, and they pop up in Lazarus attacks. The attacks have dated back to at least 2007, and often contain other clues, such as North Korean fonts.”

The Gang That Couldn’t Code Straight

Although the proof is circumstantial, the case that North Korea was behind WannaCry is an effective one, stated Scott Borg, CEO of the
U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.

“WannaCry was incompetently written and managed — so we’re attributing to North Korea something that’s well within its capabilities, because it didn’t demonstrate a lot of capabilities,” he instructed TechNewsWorld. “Unlike some of the other things that have been attributed to North Korea, this is plausible and highly likely.”

Quite a lot of latest reviews have touted North Korea as a rising cyberpower, however Borg disputes that.

“WannaCry is an example of North Korea’s limitations. This was not a competently written piece of ransomware. The whole thing was badly bungled,” he stated.

“I’m sure the criminal organizations making money off of ransomware were furious with the creators of WannaCry because they undermined the credibility of the whole racket,” Borg added.

Why Now?

Since there was robust public proof of North Korea’s connection to WannaCry for months, the timing of the U.S. condemnation could also be tied to different considerations.

For instance, the United States could wish to shine a highlight on Lazarus.

“Lazarus has been particularly active recently,” AlienVault’s Doman stated. “I’m seeing numerous new malware samples from them daily. A lot of their current activity involves stealing bitcoin and credit card numbers.”

The condemnation additionally comes on the heels of the administration’s announcement of a brand new safety coverage.

“They may have felt this was an appropriate time because they were going to be reaching out to other countries to do something about the cybersecurity threat and bad actors like North Korea,” James Barnett, a former Navy Rear Admiral and head of the cybersecurity apply at Venable, instructed TechNewsWorld.

Locked Armory

The timing of the condemnation additionally may very well be a part of the White House’s marketing campaign to color Pyongyang as a worldwide risk.

“It’s more about the administration’s message that North Korea is a dangerous actor than it is about cybersecurity,” stated Ross Rustici, senior director of intelligence companies for

“They’re trying to lay the groundwork for people to feel like North Korea is a threat to the homeland,” he instructed TechNewsWorld.

Whatever response the administration decides to make to North Korea’s cyberattacks stays to be seen, however monetary issues might render it a hole one, based on Kris Lovejoy, president of

“The U.S. government’s ability to procure technology to protect public sector institutions and private sector infrastructure is hampered because there’s no ability to execute on its procurement processes,” she instructed TechNewsWorld.
“It’s ironic that we’re rattling our sabers while we’ve locked the cabinet and not allowed ourselves to get to the armor.”

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter
since 2003. His areas of focus embody cybersecurity, IT points, privateness, e-commerce, social media, synthetic intelligence, large information and client electronics. He has written and edited for quite a few publications, together with the Boston Business Journal, the
Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government
Security News
. Email John.

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