- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2017

A spokesperson for North Korea’s foreign ministry said Thursday that Pyongyang wasn’t responsible for the WannaCry computer worm that crippled systems across 150 countries earlier this year, and that the Trump administration was inciting a “global confrontation” by insisting otherwise.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson made the remarks after being asked about U.S. government recently concluding that North Korean hackers waged the debilitating cyberattack, state-run media reported.

“As we have clearly stated on several occasions, we have nothing to do with cyberattack and we do not feel a need to respond, on a case-by-case basis, to such absurd allegations of the U.S.,” the spokesperson said. “However, we can never tolerate the U.S. reckless move of using the issue of cyberattack for the purpose of making direct accusation against our state.”

“Crystal clear is the purpose of the U.S. trying to link us to the issue of cyberattack at this very moment when it is hell-bent on making a harshest ‘sanctions resolution’ against us,” the spokesperson said.

The White House announced Tuesday this week that the U.S. was publicly attributing the WannaCry attack to North Korea, echoing conclusions reached previously by the likes of Microsoft and the British minister of state for security, among others, and amplifying already heightened national security concerns with respect to Pyongyang’s capabilities.

WannaCry “was directed by the government of North Korea,” said Tom Bossert, President Trump’s homeland security adviser.

“We’re also comfortable in saying that there were actors on their behalf, intermediaries, carrying out this attack, and that they had carried out those types of attacks on behalf of the North Korean government in the past,” he told reporters Tuesday. “And that was one of the tradecraft routines that allowed us to reach that conclusion.”

The foreign affairs spokesperson shot back Thursday, accusing the U.S. of “inciting the global confrontation against us by forcibly linking to [North Korea] the latest incident of cyber-attack which has given rise to a great international outcry.”

“The Trump administration is inciting an extremely confrontational atmosphere by even concocting a plot against us at this delicate moment when the situation on the Korean peninsula is at the crossroads of nuclear war or peace,” the spokesperson added.

The U.S. blamed North Korea for the WannaCry attack on the heels of the Trump administration taking aim at Pyongyang in response to its developing nuclear program. Mr. Trump announced “major sanctions” against North Korea in November, and last week the U.S. urged China, North Korea‘ largest trading partner, to follow suit.

WannaCry was unleashed in early May and ultimately infected over 200,000 computer systems across 150 countries by exploiting a critical vulnerability impacting certain versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, in turn crippling machines used by the like of the U.K. National Health Service and Russia’s central bank.

The worm stopped spreading when Marcus Hutchins, a British security researcher, inadvertently enabled a “kill switch” that prevented further propagation. Mr. Hutchins was subsequently arrested on unrelated computer fraud charges and is currently free on bail pending trial.

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