Several days ago a massive wave of ransomware flooded the World Wide Web spreading to a hundred and fifty countries. All across the world computers were seized with a demand for bitcoin or their computers would remain inoperable. The most famous victim of the recent attack has been the National Health Service in the UK. The result has been a boost to its digital infrastructure that was apparently still running WindowsXP. This new commitment of funds is likely to be all that the NHS sees for quite some time.
The program has been dubbed the WannaCry ransomware. The NSA has “backdoors” implemented into many popular operating systems. These are left open with particular pieces of code so that the NSA can infiltrate anyone they want. That vulnerability was as leaked out to the public. Once made public, Microsoft attempted to patch these holes as quickly as possible. However, some older unsupported operating systems were left vulnerable.
When this is combined with people who refused to update their systems, WannaCry malware infected more than 100,000 computers worldwide on Friday, extorting victims to pay hundreds of dollars worth in Bitcoin or face losing their files.
Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said in a blog post on Sunday. “This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem… equivalent scenario… would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.” That’s how serious this failure by the NSA is.
Now that it has been a few days since the attack was launched and the damage tallied up, finger pointing has begun. At least one person who works for tech giant Google has pointed their finger at the DPRK. Neel Mehta has claimed that the code used by WannaCry is very similar to that of the Lazarus Group. This group has been accused of being agents of the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or ‘North Korea’). The code is said to be similar to what was behind the Sony attack in 2015.
While researchers cannot say conclusively that it is the same group, they say it’s likely given the similarity of the code. The problem with this is that any group can copy the code and use it in a modified form. Another important point to make is that it has never been verified that the hacking against Sony was actually done by the DPRK. In fact, a group of former and current Sony employees admitted to carrying it out. Of course, this was ignored by the US government and the media. Instead, baseless allegations were made against the DPRK.
It seems we’re seeing the same thing again here. A notorious hack is being blamed on the DPRK on the most flimsy of pretexts. The fact that it was done with NSA exploit codes, and known vulnerabilities the NSA was hoarding is being glossed over quickly. It seems that this hack will be used to increase international pressure on the DPRK as retaliation for their refusal to abandon their nuclear weapons program.
There is a great deal of precedent to making such unsubstantiated attacks against the DPRK. The sinking of the Cheonan in 2010 was blamed on the DPRK when the evidence showed that it was most likely an accident between a US and South Korean ship. Numerous allegations such as belief in unicorns have been attributed to them as well. Such is imperialist propaganda, they lie about and defame anyone who dares oppose their interests. It remains to be seen if the DPRK was behind the WannCry ransomware, but I doubt it was.