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Senior White House official says North Korea was "directly responsible" for WannaCry

He cited "evidence," though he did not disclose what it was.

by Alexa Liautaud
Dec 19 2017, 2:16am

The Trump administration on Monday blamed North Korea for launching the “WannaCry” ransomware attack in May, which threatened to destroy data from hundreds of thousands of users unless they paid a ransom through bitcoin.

In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, senior White House official Tom Bossert wrote that North Korea was “directly responsible” for the attack, saying his claim was “based on evidence,” though he did not elaborate on what the evidence actually was.

The Washington Post reported earlier Monday that a formal statement from the White House would be released on Tuesday.

The Trump administration has become increasingly hawkish on Pyongyang in what appears to be a creep towards a military stand-off. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told a forum in early December that the hermit kingdom was “the greatest immediate threat to the United States” and that the the chances of war were “increasing every day.”

Here’s how bad WannaCry was:

  • The attack infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 different countries, including those involved in critical infrastructures, like hospitals and banks.

  • The total economic loss from the attack could total $4 billion, CBS News reported, citing estimates from the cyberrisk firm Cyence.

  • The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) was most prominently impacted by the cyberattack, leading to thousands of cancelled appointments and operations, according to the country’s audit office.

  • One of FedEx’s delivery units, TNT Express, was “significantly affected” by the virus.

  • Once WannaCry infected one computer on a network, it could infect all others on that same network, according to Wired, making it much more difficult to stop.

  • Microsoft initially blamed the U.S. for the attack, saying the NSA stockpiled software vulnerabilities, which had subsequently been stolen by a third party.