The U.S. government has finally publicly acknowledged that North Korea was behind the WannaCry computer virus, which inflicted more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries earlier this year.
According to The Washington Post, the Trump administration will now be calling on “all responsible states” to counter North Korea’s ability to conduct cyberattacks and to implement all “relevant” United Nations Security Council sanctions.
Trump’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, made the announcement in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on Monday evening.
“We do not make this allegation lightly. It is based on evidence,” wrote Bossert. “We are not alone with our findings, either. Other governments and private companies agree. The United Kingdom attributes the attack to North Korea, and Microsoft traced the attack to cyber affiliates of the North Korean government.”
The announcement is not surprising: North Korea was widely suspected to be the creators of the virus, which was paired with ransomware that encrypted data on victims’ computers and demanded money to restore access.
In June, the National Security Agency linked North Korea to the creation of the worm. In October, the British government said it believed North Korea was the culprit. The following month, the CIA issued a similar classified assessment.
The May 12 global cyberattack affected critical sectors, including health care, “potentially putting lives at risk,” said an official. The WannaCry attack “demonstrates the importance of basic cyber hygiene, including keeping systems patched and up to date, as well as the need for strong cooperation between public and private sectors to share information, prevent and mitigate cyber threats.”
While the Security Council sanctions on North Korea focus on its activities to develop a nuclear weapon, the Trump administration seems to be linking North Korea’s general pattern of bad behavior, including in cyberspace, to the call to implement all sanctions.