By Robert Hackett
September 9, 2018

Happy weekend, Cyber Saturday readers. I am just returning from a trip to Mexico, so I’ll keep this dispatch brief.

This week the Justice Department indicted Park Jin Hyok, a North Korean programmer, for allegedly helping to hack companies such as Sony Pictures, the Bangladesh Bank, and many other businesses, including ones affected by last year’s crippling WannaCry ransomware worm.

The takeaway: Attribution has become an increasingly tractable problem online. When I helped former Fortune editor Peter Elkind investigate the cyberattack on Sony a few years ago, we were skeptical of the government’s ability to identify the culprit. At the time, the Feds basically pointed a finger at North Korea and said, “It was them. We’re certain. Trust us.” Now this acutely detailed, 179-page complaint dispels almost all doubt. It is chock full of damning forensic evidence.

This latest indictment comes just a couple months after the Justice Department charged a dozen Russian operatives for election meddling. A few months before that, the department indicted nine Iranians hackers for breaking into university systems. And in the fall of last year, it accused three Chinese nationals for infiltrating companies like Moody’s and Siemen’s. The message is clear: If you mess with America, you will be exposed.

Though it’s unlikely Park will ever face a courtroom hearing (you need extradition treaties in place for that), the U.S. has named and shamed him—and slapped on financial sanctions. Ideally, actions such as these will serve to deter future would-be assailants. So the thinking goes, at least.

And hey, you never know…the top story in the news section below notes that the U.S. finally got its hands on a bank hacker who many people doubted would ever come to justice. So, there’s always hope.


In past editions of this newsletter, we engaged in a dialogue about free speech and censorship, prompted by the antics of Alex Jones, an unsavory conspiracy theorist who created the website InfoWars. Twitter has finally booted Jones off its properties, and Apple too has permanently stricken the troublemaker’s app from its App Store. Thus spake Big Tech.

Feliz fin de semana.

Robert Hackett


Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my, PGP encrypted email (see public key on my, Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.


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