WASHINGTON – The United States blamed North Korea on Tuesday for the “WannaCry” cyberattack last May which froze more than 200,000 computers at firms and institutions in 150 countries.
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert made official on Tuesday the accusation against Pyongyang, noting that the attack not only caused economic losses but – in the case of the United Kingdom – put lives in danger by compromising the country’s healthcare system.
“The (WannaCry) attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible,” Bossert had said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Monday. “We do not make this allegation lightly. It is based on evidence. We are not alone with our findings, either.”
Bossert said that the US government bases its accusations on intelligence gathered by US and foreign agencies.
He said that the North Koreans, in addition, were able to collect money via WannaCry – that is, ransom demanded for the promise to subsequently unlock frozen computers –, but he added that their main objective was simply to create havoc.
“While victims received ransom demands, paying did not unlock their computers,” he wrote in his op-ed. “It was cowardly, costly and careless. The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible.”
Bossert said, however, that tech giant “Facebook took down accounts and stopped the operational execution of ongoing cyberattacks and Microsoft acted to patch existing attacks, not just the WannaCry attack initially.”
Regarding the possible consequences for North Korea, Bossert admitted that there is little chance for retaliatory action against Pyongyang, since the US is already exercising pressure on the regime from almost all possible angles.