North Korea "directly responsible" for massive cyberattack: WH official

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It is based on evidence. "When we must, the U.S. will act alone to impose costs and consequences for cyber malfeasance", Bossert added.

In Monday's commentary, KCNA referenced warnings of the cost and devastation of a US miscalculation on North Korea by Defense Priorities foreign policy expert and former CATO Institute defense policy head Charles Peña, which appeared in The National Interest and RealClearDefense earlier this year, as well as a recent letter by dozens of retired military officials advising Trump that "military options must not be the preferred course of action", reported by The Washington Post.

"The attack was widespread and cost billions, and North Korea is directly responsible", Bossert wrote.

"Malicious hackers belong in prison, and totalitarian governments should pay a price for their actions", he wrote, adding "The tool kits of totalitarian regimes are too threatening to ignore". He noted that the Trump administration has banned the use of Kaspersky software from government systems over concerns that the software could abet Russian espionage, and that the government has also charged Iranian hackers who attacked United States companies such as HBO. But it added: "When we must, the U.S. will act alone to impost costs and consequences for cyber malfeasance". In further defiance of Trump's warnings, Kim also oversaw the launches of North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July and launched a third, higher one late last month, showing the country was likely capable of striking any target in the U.S.

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The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ransomware attack exploited a vulnerability in Windows XP and crippled computers in the UK's National Health Service and Renault manufacturing facilities in France, among others, reports The Verge. What made WannaCry particularly devastating was that it managed to spread itself like a computer worm to over 200,000 machines through the use of stolen NSA cyberweapons.

North Korea was widely suspected of being behind the computer virus and ransomware, which demanded payment to restore access. Bossert concludes his op-ed with the line, "We will continue to use our maximum pressure strategy to curb Pyongyang's ability to mount attacks, cyber or otherwise", suggesting the administration is openly looking into measures it can take to combat North Korea's capacity for cyberattacks. An earlier version of the WannaCry ransomware shared coding similarities with past hacks from the Lazarus Group, a shadowy hacking collective many believe work for the North Korean government.

What the point of this blame will be remains uncertain, other than piling on amid rising tensions with North Korea.

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