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North Korea-linked hackers 'highly likely' behind WannaCry: Symantec

It is "highly likely" that the WannaCry cybersecurity attack that infected more than 300,000 computers across the world this month was the handiwork of a hacking group linked to North Korea, Symantec Corp, the Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity firm, wrote in a blog post on Monday.

A fresh set of evidences by a cyber security firm have sought to link the this month's "WannaCry" ransomware attack to the Lazarus hacker's group, widely believed to be connected to North Korea.

The Lazarus group is a hacking team tied to North Korea that researchers have linked to a number of major intrusions, including the attack on the Bank of Bangladesh and the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack.

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"The shared code likely means that, at a minimum, WannaCry operators share software development resources with North Korean espionage operators", Ben Read of FireEye told Bloomberg on Tuesday. It also doesn't indicate the attack was state-sponsored, although it'd raise some eyebrows that a group that has done the bidding of the state before would go rogue like this.

Symantec said that despite the links to Lazarus, "the WannaCry attacks do not bear the hallmarks of a nation-state campaign but are more typical of a cybercrime campaign".

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You can find out more about the similarities that have been discovered over on the Symantec website.

The Symantec researchers dismissed the theory that WannaCry was deployed simply to cause global chaos and prove that Lazarus - and by extension North Korea - is capable of deploying a crippling attack. US authorities have accused North Korea as being responsible for the Sony Pictures hack, which it has so far denied.

The WannaCry attacks used the same command-and-control server used in the North Korean hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, which wiped out almost half of the company's personal computers and servers.

The earlier versions of WannaCry and the one used in the May 12 attacks are largely the same, with some minor changes, chiefly the incorporation of the EternalBlue exploit.

In November 2014, for just one example, Sony Pictures Entertainment became the target of the biggest cyberattack in U.S. corporate history just before its release of the critically panned racial-caricature comedy "The Interview", which takes North Korea as its setting. "It remains more probable that the authors of WannaCry borrowed code from Lazarus or a similar source", says James Scott, Senior Fellow, ICIT. Additional fingerprints linked Lazarus Group to hacks that wiped nearly a terabyte's worth of data from Sony Pictures and siphoned a reported £57 million from the Bangladesh Central Bank previous year.

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