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A poster for "The Interview." Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced Thursday it had filed a criminal complaint in June of this year against a North Korean and a North Korean entity for hacking Sony Pictures in 2014, digitally stealing millions of dollars from the bank of Bangladesh, the WannaCry malware attack in 2017 and other attacks.

Why it matters: Until now, North Korea had been the only country of the four major non-U.S. cyber powers that had not seen U.S. indictments, behind Iran, China and Russia.

The details: The Treasury Department will sanction Park Jin Hyok and Chosun Expo Joint Venture, an alleged front IT company. Park worked for North Korean governmental hacking group the Lazarus Group and is believed to be in North Korea.

According to the complaint: Park worked with several other conspirators. Crimes continued through 2018 and the investigation is ongoing. North Korea allegedly hacked Sony over the Seth Rogan movie "The Interview," which had been widely assumed to be the motive.

  • During the attack on Sony, Lazarus allegedly sent spear-phishing emails to the UK-based production company Mammoth Screen and to AMC, which planned to show the movie.

Lazarus allegedly used the same aliases from Sony to attack Lockheed Martin, using a lure email of the THAAD missile defense system, per the complaint.

Lazarus was behind the 2017 WannaCry attack, causing billions of dollars in damages internationally. The WannaCry malware was meant to appear to be ransomware and briefly caused a massive disruption across the U.K. hospital system.

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.

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