A man has been named by US authorities as being involved in the 2017 WannaCry cyber attack, which affected the NHS and many other organisations across the UK. Park Jin Hyok, a North Korean programmer, has been charged by the US as a participant and member of the group which created the WannaCry ransomware and conducted cyber intrusions against multiple victims in the entertainment and financial sectors.
The US charges relating to the WannaCry attack are the result of critical evidence obtained by the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), the officials of which were able to link this attack to others already being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The NCA has been leading the UK’s criminal investigation since the attack. Working with Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs), Europol, industry partners and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the NCA has collated and shared evidence with the FBI to support the charges against Park Jin Hyok.
WannaCry affected 48 NHS Trusts across the UK, but this wasn’t a deliberate act against the NHS, as organisations in more than 100 countries were impacted.
Extended and complex enquiries
Paul Hoare, senior investigating officer for the NCA’s investigation, said: “Colleagues in the FBI have opened charges against a single defendant alleged to be involved in a conspiracy to conduct hig- profile cyber attacks – including creating the WannaCry ransomware – that affected the NHS and many other organisations in the UK. The charges in relation to the WannaCry attacks are the culmination of extended and complex enquiries made by the NCA and law enforcement partners in the United States. We have worked closely with the NCA Cyber Security Industry Group in the UK, and their invaluable contribution helped us produce key evidence to support the charges.”
NCA director general (operations) Steve Rodhouse stated: “The ransomware attacks that affected the UK appear to be part of a series, and it’s right that they’re prosecuted together to show the full scale of offending. The collaboration between UK and US law enforcement has been strong and effective. These charges show that we will not tire in our efforts to identify those who believe they can hide behind a computer and cause havoc across the world, regardless of their motivation or status.”
Rodhouse added: “The past year has shown that cyber attacks have real-world consequences and can cause enormous reputational and financial damage to businesses of all sizes. The Wannacry attack highlighted that cyber crime affects not just the country’s prosperity and security, but also affects our everyday way of life. The distinction between nation states and criminal groups in terms of cyber crime is becoming frequently more blurred and today’s charges are a significant step forward in our investigation.”