24 May, 2017
The Lazarus hacking group, widely believed to be connected to North Korea, is "highly likely" responsible for the WannaCry global cyber attack that hit earlier this month, United States anti-virus firm Symantec said.
While researchers across the world are trying their best to contain the damage by world's biggest ransomware attack - WannaCry - researchers at Symantec Corp believe the ransomeware is "highly likely" from a hacking group associated with North Korea.
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The WannaCry ransomware attack was based on an NSA exploit dubbed Eternal Blue, which was leaked on the web by a group called ShadowBrokers. However, Symantec allowed that "the WannaCry attacks do not bear the hallmarks of a nation-state campaign but are more typical of a cybercrime campaign".
Security companies have given the name Lazarus to the group behind the hacking of Sony attack and others. Similar attacks were attempted in 2016, and the panel chair advised there is now a "heightened risk" of attack.
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Microsoft has blamed the USA government for creating the software code that was used by hackers to launch the cyber-attacks. Microsoft is unlikely to face legal trouble over the ransomware attack, according to legal experts.
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Meanwhile, there is at least one thing the government and security experts agree on: People who have seen the dreaded WannaCry screen should not pay the ransom.
On Friday, North Korea denied allegations that it was somehow responsible for the WannaCry ransomware outbreak that affected over 240,000 computers in almost 200 countries across the globe. "It remains more probable that the authors of WannaCry borrowed code from Lazarus or a similar source", says James Scott, Senior Fellow, ICIT. By custom, Symantec does not attribute cyber campaigns directly to governments, but its researchers did not dispute the common belief that Lazarus works for North Korea.
Moreover, the internet connection which was used to install the early version of WannaCry on two computers and communication with files that destroyed Sony Pictures Entertainment were same.
The most effective version of WannaCry spread by using a flaw in Microsoft's Windows and a program that took advantage of it that had been used by the U.S. National Security Agency, officials said privately.
The researchers have found a number of similarities between earlier versions of WannaCry and attacks that Lazarus have conducted in the past.
The hacking group widely blamed for breaching Sony Pictures in 2014 was "highly likely" behind the unprecedented WannaCry ransomware attack responsible for crippling computer systems around the world this month, a leading American cybersecurity firm said Monday.