USA would talk to N. Korea if missile, nuclear tests stop: Haley

Fernando Stephens
May 18, 2017

North Korea has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of a year ago in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.

Cybersecurity researchers on Tuesday said they have found evidence [Kapersky Lab report] that could link North Korea to the recent cyberattack that affected 300,000 computers in 150 countries over the weekend.

"We're not trying to do any of those things", she said.

"The similarities we see between malware linked to that group and WannaCry are not unique enough to be strongly suggestive of a common operator", FireEye researcher John Miller said.

Haley says the US and China have been working on "a unified plan" on North Korea that would include new sanctions and she predicts a new United Nations resolution will move forward following the weekend launch. It encrypted users' computer files and displayed a message demanding $300 to $600 worth of the digital currency bitcoin to release them; failure to pay would leave the data scrambled and likely beyond fix.

Haley said the USA and China have been working on "a unified plan" on how to approach North Korea that would include stronger implementation of existing sanctions and tougher new sanctions.

He found that computer code used in an early version of WannaCry matched code used by the Lazarus group, which has been tied to the North Korean government.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a closed-door meeting of the 15-member U.N. Security Council on the missile launch, Haley made clear that Washington would only talk to North Korea once it halted its nuclear program.

In addition to past alleged cyberattacks, North Korea had also been accused of counterfeiting $100 bills which were known as "superdollars" or "supernotes" because the fakes were almost flawless.

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"Since a July 2009 cyberattack by North Korea, they used the same method", Choi said.

Researchers might find some additional clues in the bitcoin accounts accepting the ransom payments.

"We may not see the real picture yet, as companies are not mandated to disclose security breaches to authorities in Malaysia", said LE Global CEO Fong Choong Fook.

Just hours after the Google researcher's discovery, cybersecurity firms Kaspersky Lab and Symantec confirmed they also detected similarities in the codes.

That means the very first attempts to reach that address, which might have been recorded by spy agencies such as the NSA or Russian intelligence, could lead to "patient zero" - the first computer infected with WannaCry.

Forensics, though, will only get investigators so far.

Even if the perpetrators can be identified, bringing them to justice could be another matter.

Saudi Arabia says the WannaCry "ransomware" attack affected some government computers as well as those of Saudi Telecom Co., which provides landline, mobile and internet services for millions in the country.

No draft resolution was circulated to the full council, but Haley said the United States was working with China on a text.

Other reports by BadHub

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