Three North Korean computer programmers have been charged in Los Angeles with conspiring to steal and extort more than $1 billion in a sweeping array of cyberattacks against banks, other companies and cryptocurrency traders around the world, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
The hackers were working for a North Korean military agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, and pursuing strategic and financial goals of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, authorities said.
In an indictment unsealed Wednesday, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles charged that Jon Chang Hyok, Kim Il and Park Jin Hyok attacked banks, entertainment companies, online casinos, defense contractors, energy utilities and others in the U.S., Bangladesh, Mexico, Indonesia, Britain, Vietnam, Pakistan and other countries.
The victims included Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Embarrassing emails sent by Sony executives were made public in 2014, allegedly in retaliation for the studio’s release of “The Interview,” a comedy film that depicted the fictional assassination of Kim Jong Un. One of the accused hackers, Park, was charged in the Sony attack in 2018, and now the other two men are accused of having a hand in the incursion as well.
Beyond the Sony attack, the indictment announced Wednesday alleges a broader scheme to carry out various cybercrimes, including the attempted theft of $1.2 billion from banks across the globe, wide distribution of malicious cryptocurrency apps and spear-phishing campaigns to penetrate computer systems of U.S. defense contractors, the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department.
“As laid out in today’s indictment, North Korea’s…