Three North Koreans Indicted in Sony Pictures Hack and Financial Crimes

Gene Maddaus
·2 min read

The Department of Justice on Wednesday announced the indictment of three North Koreans who are accused of perpetrating the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures, along with numerous other cyber intrusions and financial crimes.

Arrest warrants were issued for three defendants — Jon Chang Hyok, Kim Il, and Park Jin Hyok — all of whom are believed to be in North Korea. Park was previously charged in a case unsealed in September 2018.

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Prosecutors allege that the three worked for the Reconnaissance General Bureau, a wing of North Korean military intelligence. They allegedly carried out the cyberhack of Sony Pictures in November 2014, in retaliation for “The Interview,” the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy that depicted the assassination of Kim Jong Un. The perpetrators are also accused of sending spear-phishing emails to try to hack into AMC Theatres in December 2014, also in retaliation for its plans to screen the film.

Additionally, the hackers allegedly gained access to Mammoth Screen, a U.K. production company that was producing “Opposite Number,” a 10-part series about a British nuclear scientist taken prisoner in North Korea.

The indictment also accuses the hackers of seeking to steal $1.3 billion from banks and financial institutions around the world. According to federal officials, North Korea has also made numerous efforts to steal cryptocurrency using malware. According to prosecutors, the three were also involved in the WannaCry malware attack in 2017.

Much of the information was previously detailed in the 2018 criminal complaint. But the indictment adds additional material about more recent cryptocurrency thefts and efforts to conduct spear-phishing attacks against the Defense Department, the State Department, and various defense contractors and technology companies.

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