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Photo: Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images

Federal investigators levied new charges Wednesday against three North Korean computer programmers accused of wide-ranging cyberattacks, including the 2014 Sony Pictures hack and schemes to extort more than $1.3 billion of money and cryptocurrency.

The big picture: The charges expand on the FBI's 2018 case on the cyberattacks targeting Sony Pictures and the WannaCry 2.0 ransomware attack.

Driving the news: The Justice Department outlined a range of criminal cyber activities it says were undertaken by operatives working for a North Korean military intelligence agency. The attacks include:

  • Cyberattacks on the entertainment industry, including the attack on Sony Pictures in retaliation for the release of "The Interview," a satire that made fun of North Korea's dictatorship.
  • Attempts to steal more than $1.2 billion from banks in multiple countries by hacking their computer networks.
  • Developing malicious cryptocurrency applications — including Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, Kupay Wallet, CoinGo Trade, Dorusio, CryptoNeuro Trader, and Ants2Whale — to give the North Korean hackers backdoors into victims’ computers.

What they're saying: "The scope of these crimes by the North Korean hackers are staggering," said Tracy L. Wilkison, acting U.S. attorney for the central district of California. "The conduct detailed in the indictment are the acts of a criminal nation-state that has stopped at nothing to extract revenge and obtain money to prop up its regime."

Go deeper: North Korea's hackers are robbing banks

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Alabama's new congressional map rejected by federal judges

The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Federal judges on Monday night blocked Alabama's newly drawn congressional map and ordered the Republican-led State Legislature to create a new one that includes two districts, rather than the planned one.

Why it matters: "Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress," the panel of three judges wrote in their ruling.

Australian Open organizers reverse "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirt ban

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai during the 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne. Photo: Bai Xue/Xinhua via Getty Images

Australian Open organizers on Tuesday reversed a ban on t-shirts supporting Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai following widespread criticism.

Why it matters: Tennis Australia's announcement came less than 24 hours after the governing body defended the decision to ask fans last Friday to remove "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirts, citing ticket policy prohibiting political clothing, per the BBC.

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