The US Treasury has announced sanctions on three North Korean hacking groups blamed for the global WannaCry ransomware attacks. The document refers to three large hacker groups — Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff and Andariel, witch are controlled by the RGB, North Korea’s primary intelligence bureau.
The action blocks any US-related assets of the groups and prohibits dealings with them.
The Treasury statement said any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitated significant transactions or services for them could also be subject to sanctions.
According to the agency, Lazarus is allegedly responsible for large-scale cyber attacks, as well as the creation of the WannaCry ransomware virus, which attacked more than 150 countries. The other two groups, Bluenoroff and Andariel, are allegedly units of Lazarus.
North Korea has used “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” hacks to collect roughly $2 billion, which is laundered over the web, according to the U.N. report – reportedly researched by “independent experts” and presented to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee at the end of July.
Attacking crypto exchanges allows North Korea “to generate income in ways that are harder to trace and subject to less government oversight and regulation than the traditional banking sector,” the U.N. report said.