US levies sanctions against North Korean hacking groups

The hackers are allegedly behind WannaCry, the Sony hack and a major bank heist.

Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
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Laura Hautala

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting with US President Donald Trump in June. The US Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned three hacking groups it says are sponsored by the North Korean government.

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

The US government sanctioned three hacking groups that allegedly carried out several high-profile cyberattacks under orders from the North Korean government, the Treasury Department said Friday. The groups' exploits allegedly include the WannaCry ransomware attacks and a hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as the theft of millions of dollars from the Central Bank of Bangladesh and similar attempts on banks around the world.

The organizations, known as the Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff and Andariel, are now officially considered agents of the North Korean government by the Treasury Department, which is responsible for carrying out economic sanctions for the federal government. They have been added to the Treasury's list of Specially Designated Persons, which blocks any assets they may have in the US and prohibits US persons from doing business with them.

Watch this: US officials charge North Korean over major hacks like WannaCry and Sony

The sanctions are the latest step the US government has taken to hold North Korean hackers accountable for the attacks. The US Department of Justice has also charged a North Korean computer programmer with crimes relating to the WannaCry and Sony hacks as well as the bank heist.