North Korea link to NHS hacking attack

But while the links to Lazarus are strong, North Korea denies that it was involved in any sort of state-sponsored attack, dismissing such claims as "a dirty and despicable smear campaign".

This is the second time in a matter of days that a security company links the infamous Lazarus Group to the cyber attack.

But Symantec said the ransomware had numerous hallmarks of other Lazarus attacks, including the 2014 strike on Sony Pictures and a multimillion-dollar theft from the Bangladesh Central Bank. This is consistent with the theories of many other ransomware experts, who view WannaCry as the work of an unsophisticated group, rather than a nation-state.

In addition to Sony, Lazarus has previously been attributed with cyberattacks suffered by the likes of the Bangladesh central bank, among other victims. The malware included Trojan Volgmer and two variants of Backdoor.Destover, the disk wiping tool used in Sony Pictures attacks.

The experts from the United Nations who were investigating the role of North Korea were hacked out by the unknown hackers giving a very detailed view of their work via a mail sent a by the hacking group.

The version of WannaCry that spread like wildfire used an automated system to wreak havoc, itself based on EternalBlue, one of the hacking tools a hacking group called Shadow Brokers stole from the U.S. National Security Agency. The US government and private companies have accused North Korea in the 2014 Sony attack. The malicious software has been used by the North Korea-connected hacking collective Lazarus Group to attack a number of targets, including financial institutions in Southeast Asia.

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After Kaspersky, Symantec also says there is evidence that supports the idea that North Korea may be behind the WannaCry hit.

"The shared code likely means that, at a minimum, WannaCry operators share software development resources with North Korean espionage operators", Ben Read of FireEye told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Beau Woods, deputy director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, said that the Korean used in some versions of the WannaCry ransom note was not that of a native speaker, making a Lazarus connection unlikely.

But Thakur said that some hackers deliberately obfuscate their language to make tracing them harder.

Other digital crumbs linking the North Korean group to WannaCry include a tool that deletes data that had been used in other Lazarus attacks.

Lazarus has also been linked to attacks on banks using their SWIFT messaging network. Additional fingerprints linked Lazarus Group to hacks that wiped nearly a terabyte's worth of data from Sony Pictures and siphoned a reported £57 million from the Bangladesh Central Bank a year ago.


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