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Justice Department to announce hacking charges tied to North Korea – CNET

BIllboard showing an ad for The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

Sony canceled the release of The Interview after a hacking scandal that exposed sensitive internal Sony communications.

Christopher Polk / Getty Images

The Justice Department is expected to announce charges against at least one North Korean hacker on Thursday. 

Federal officials will make the formal announcement in Los Angeles at 10 a.m. PT, according to CBS News

The indictment stems from at least two incidents in recent years, according to Reuters: the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attacks and the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures.

The Sony Pictures hack was tied to the film The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, which depicted an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. In retaliation, North Korean hackers pulled off one of the most damaging hacks on a US company, leaking thousands of emails between Sony executives, including personal information of employees and celebrities.

Sony didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The FBI attributed the attack to North Korea within weeks, but the hackers behind the attack were never formally indicted by the Justice Department. In January 2015, President Obama signed off on sanctions against North Korea in response to the attack. 

North Korea's hackers were also responsible for the massive WannaCry ransomware and were linked to an $81 million bank heist in India. Over the years, North Korea has built up a powerful hacker army called the Lazarus Group.

Thursday's indictment would be the first US case against North Korea's hackers.

While it's unlikely that any North Korean hacker would be extradited to face trial in the US, the Justice Department has used its "Name and Shame" strategy for multiple nation-state hackers, including hackers from Russia, China and Iran.

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