Turnbull condemns N Korea over cyber attack


AUSTRALIA’S intelligence agencies have confirmed North Korea carried out the massive “WannaCry” cyber attack this year that impacted more than 150 countries earlier this year.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today condemned the rogue nation for the unprecedented cyber attack which hit more than 230,000 computers across the globe in May, including in hospitals in England and Scotland.

Russia, Ukraine, India and Chinese Taipei were the worst affected countries.

Australia’s confirmation comes after the US publicly attributed the attack to North Korea on Monday. The UK has blamed Pyongyang for the worm.

READ: More Australian businesses and individuals could be hit by ransomware attack

media_cameraPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned North Korea’s cyber attack. Picture: AAP Image/Daniel Munoz

“We condemn North Korea’s use of cybercrime which poses grave risk to the global economy and can have a devastating effect on government operations and services, business activity and the safety and welfare of individuals,” Mr Turnbull said today.

The WannaCry attack showed the rapid, global damage cybercrime could cause, he said.

“The Government is implementing its Cyber Security Strategy to protect against cyber-attack and increasing co-operation with the international community through the recently launched International Cyber Engagement Strategy to reinforce control against of malevolent use of cyberspace,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The Government is committed to making the Australian public sector, businesses and community resilient to evolving cyber threats.”

More than a dozen Australian businesses were hit in the initial WannaCry attack in May. A similar incident in June hit further businesses, including the Cadbury factory in Hobart.

The cyber attack targeted computers with Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Users that had not updated their systems to eradicate a specific vulnerability, an exploit called EternalBlue released by hackers The Shadow Brokers a few months earlier, were hit when the WannaCry ransomware took advantage of the infected systems.

The ransomware locked users out and demanded ransom payments using cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

media_cameraUS homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said “North Korea is directly responsible” for the cyber attacks which infected thousands of computers. Picture: AFP/Saul Loeb

Earlier, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre had assessed it was highly likely that North Korea’s Lazarus hacking group was behind the one of the most significant cyber attacks to hit the UK in terms of scale of disruption, the Foreign Office said overnight.

“We condemn these actions and commit ourselves to working with all responsible states to combat destructive criminal use of cyber space,” Foreign Office minister Tariq Ahmad said.

“The indiscriminate use of the WannaCry ransomware demonstrates North Korean actors using their cyber program to circumvent sanctions,” Ahmad said.

The Trump administration has publicly blamed North Korea for unleashing the so-called “WannaCry” cyber attack that crippled hospitals, banks and other companies across the globe, including in Australia, earlier this year.

media_cameraA laptop displays a message after being infected by a ransomware as part of the “WannaCry” cyber attack. Picture: AFP/ANP/Rob Engelaar

“The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible,” Tom Bossert, Homeland Security adviser to President Donald Trump, wrote in a piece published on Monday night in the Wall Street Journal.

“North Korea has acted especially badly, largely unchecked, for more than a decade, and its malicious behaviour is growing more egregious,” Mr Bossert wrote. “WannaCry was indiscriminately reckless.”

The White House was expected to follow up on Tuesday with a more formal statement blaming Pyongyang, according to a senior administration official.

Originally published as Turnbull condemns N Korea over cyber attack

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