Expect says North Korea may be behind WannaCry ransomware

Cyberattack gives big boost to security stocks

"Neel Mehta's discovery is the most significant clue to date regarding the origins of WannaCrypt", Kaspersky Lab added.

Though North Korea has never admitted any involvement in the Sony Pictures hack, security researchers and the U.S. government are confident in the theory and neither can rule out the possibility of a false flag.

IT exerts are probing similarities between the WannaCry computer code and malware from Lazarus, a hacking group behind cyber attacks on Sony Pictures in 2014 which was blamed on North Korea.

Cyber security experts admit the technical evidence linking North Korea to the global WannaCry "ransomware" cyber attack is somewhat tenuous, but Pyongyang has the advanced cyber capabilities and the motive to compensate for lost revenue due to economic sanctions, to be considered a likely suspect.

Cybersecurity firms Symantec and Kaspersky have independently found distinct instances of overlapping code between WannaCry and Lazarus Group.

"WannaCry and this [program] attributed to Lazarus are sharing code that's unique".

"As you can see it is pretty thin and all circumstantial".

Kaspersky Lab, however, noted that a lot more information was needed about earlier versions of "WannaCrypt" before any firm conclusion could be reached. Other cyber security investigators are also working on uncovering the connection of WannaCry to the Lazarus Group.

Attributing cyberattacks can be notoriously hard - often relying on consensus rather than confirmation, the report said.

Kaspersky Lab said: "The similarity of course could be a false flag operation".

Skilled hackers may have simply made it look like it had origins in North Korea by using similar techniques.

Lazarus Group has been known to utilize and target Bitcoin in their hacking operations. "But it's worth looking deeper, being conscious of confirmation bias now that North Korea has been identified as a possibility", Woodward said.

Security officials from the United States and Europe, meanwhile, also said that it was too early to pin the attack on North Korea, but the country is now one of the suspects.

In addition to past alleged cyber attacks, North Korea had also been accused of counterfeiting $100 bills which were known as "superdollars" or "supernotes" because the fakes were almost flawless. Russian Federation too was badly affected, the report said.

Revelations of the resemblance to previous cyber attack by the Lazarus Group has prompted the need for further investigations. WannaCry, in contrast, was wildly indiscriminate - it would infect anything and everything it could, the report said.

Marcus Hutchins, 22, a British computer expert, has been hailed a hero for helping to shut down the crippling cyber attack after discovering a so-called "kill switch" that slowed the effects of the WannaCry virus as it swept through computer systems around the world.

The most disruptive attacks were reported in the United Kingdom, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers.

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