US Charges N. Korean Man in Sony Hack, Other Attacks


WASHINGTON, (MASOOD FARIVAR-VOANEWS)- U.S. prosecutors on Thursday announced criminal charges against a North Korean hacker they said was involved in a string of brazen cyberattacks in recent years, including the 2014 invasion on Sony Pictures and a 2016 heist at the central bank of Bangladesh.

Prosecutors identified the hacker as Park Jin Hyok, a computer programmer and member of a North Korean regime-sponsored hacking team known as the Lazarus Group. The group is accused of engaging in a multiyear conspiracy to conduct "multiple destructive cyberattacks" on banks and other institutions around the world.

The charges against Park were filed in federal court in Los Angeles, where Sony Pictures is headquartered, on June 8, four days before U.S. President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a historic summit in Singapore. The allegations come as the Trump administration is seeking to break a stalemate in denuclearization talks with the North Korean government.

Park, who faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit computer-related fraud, remains at large. The FBI released a wanted poster that seeks information about him.
The Treasury Department announced sanctions against Park and Chosun Expo Joint Venture, a North Korean government front company that employed him.

"Today's announcement demonstrates the FBI's unceasing commitment to unmasking and stopping the malicious actors and countries behind the world's cyberattacks," FBI Director Christopher Wray said. "We stand with our partners to name the North Korean government as the force behind this destructive global cybercampaign."

Accused of numerous attacks

The hacking group is accused of carrying out numerous other attacks on financial institutions, entertainment companies, defense contractors, virtual currency industries, academia and electric facilities in the United States, as well as on entities in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers called the scale of the cyberattacks "staggering."

The attack on Sony Pictures crippled the company's networks and was widely believed to have been carried out in retaliation for the release of The Interview, an action comedy film that depicted a fictional assassination plot against Kim.

The complaint alleges that the North Korean hackers stole movies and other confidential information during the invasion and rendered thousands of the company's computers inoperable. The administration of former President Barack Obama sanctioned three North Korean organizations and 10 individuals for the attack.

In the 2016 attack on Bangladesh Bank, the country's central bank, Lazarus Group hackers attempted to transfer out as much as $1 billion but ended up with $81 million. The heist is seen as the largest cybertheft from a financial institution.


The group was also behind the 2017 global ransomware attack known as WannaCry 2.0. The complaint alleges that the Lazarus Group hackers wrote the malware used in the attack, which infected computer networks in more than 150 countries.

The criminal complaint alleges that Park worked as a computer programmer for Chosun Expo for over a decade.

The company is affiliated with Lab 110, a component of the North Korean military intelligence service, according to the complaint. In addition to performing legitimate programming work for paying clients, the Lazarus

Group is accused of engaging in malicious cyberattacks.

Officials said the investigation into the group was ongoing.

Growing cyberthreats to US

In recent years, U.S. officials have singled out North Korea among the countries that pose growing cyberthreats to the U.S. In its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report, released in February, the Office of the

Director of National Intelligence said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea "will pose the greatest cyberthreats to the United States during the next year."

Lazarus is one of several North Korean hacking groups. Another is known as Reaper, a group that started off focusing on South Korea but has expanded to targets throughout East and South Asia over the past year, said Benjamin Reed, senior manager for cyber espionage analysis at cybersecurity firm FireEye.

"So there is definitely more than one hacking group out of North Korea," Reed said.

He said north Korean hackers engage in two types of activities: traditional espionage aimed at its neighbors, Asian countries and the United States, and financially motivated cyberattacks carried out in countries with vulnerable computer networks.

Reed said that Lazarus was active as recently as a few months ago and that it remained to be seen how it would react to the publicity surrounding the criminal charges announced Thursday.
Deterrent effect

The group had been previously tied to the Sony, Bangladesh Bank and WannaCry attacks, and the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert about it in June. But the scrutiny hasn't fazed the group, Reed said.

Jeanette Manfra, the homeland security department's top cybersecurity official, said the charges against Park could have a deterrent effect.
"It's important to hold people accountable for their actions and use the tools that the government has available," Manfra said. "It changes a country's calculus."

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.

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Tags: The United Sates, North Korea Sony

Galileo’s ground control segment contracted for upgrade


ESA.- With Europe’s Galileo constellation in space now expanded to 26 navigation satellites – and Galileo Initial Services available to users worldwide – the infrastructure on the ground that controls them is undergoing a corresponding expansion.

ESA has awarded a new work order for the Galileo Control Segment – that part of the Galileo system responsible for the monitoring and control of all the satellites in orbit – to GMV Aerospace and Defence, Spain.

The contract was signed today by ESA Director of Navigation Paul Verhoef and Jesús B. Serrano Martínez, CEO of GMV, in a ceremony hosted at Spain’s Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities in Madrid, in the presence of Spanish Science Minister and former ESA astronaut Pedro Duque.

Galileo’s Control Segment is hosted at the Oberpfaffenhofen Control Centre in Germany, with a ‘hot backup’ in place at Galileo’s second Control Centre, at Fucino in Italy. It also extends to a network of Telemetry, Tracking and Control (TT&C) ground stations placed around the globe to stay linked with all satellites in the constellation.

Galileo control contract signed
The combination of these Control Centres plus TT&C stations are vital to keep Galileo running at its highest possible performance level. They monitor the overall status of the constellation, gather telemetry and uplink telecommands to each satellite, while also performing two-way radio and Doppler ranging to keep precise track of their position in space, identifying any orbital drift that might degrade the system’s accuracy.

The Galileo Control Segment has been designed to allow the automatic execution of routine operations. It also includes elements supporting flight dynamics analyses, constellation operations short-term planning as well as operations preparation.

This first work order for the ‘Galileo Control Segment Exploitation Phase’ contracts GMV Aerospace and Defence as prime contractor to undertake all necessary activities to upgrade the Galileo Control Segment as part of Galileo’s Exploitation phase.

Galileo's global ground segment
This work includes upgrading the system architecture to manage a constellation of up to 41 Galileo satellites, updating obsolescent elements in the current system, improving operability linked to the provision of services and the addition of a new, second TT&C station to be based in Kourou, French Guiana.

The integration, qualification, deployment and migration into operational service of the various segments of the upgraded Galileo Control Segment will be undertaken over the next three years.

Sensor and Uplink stations
This process is to undertaken while maintaining coherence with the other segments of the overall Galileo system – such as the Galileo Mission Segment which oversees Galileo services, the external control centres that carry out initial satellite switch-ons and in-orbit testing and the satellite platform and payload manufacturers, OHB System AG in Germany and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd in the UK.

ESA has issued this work order in its role overseeing Galileo’s deployment, the design and development of future upgrades and the technical development of infrastructure on behalf of the European Commission, Galileo’s owner.

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Tags: ESA Galileo

Thousands Will Attend Schools in DRC's Ebola-Affected Areas


GENEVA, (LISA SCHLEIN-VOANEWS).- Government authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo say 250 schools in North Kivu and Ituri provinces will open their doors to more than 82,500 children when the new school year begins Monday.

These areas are the epicenter of the latest Ebola epidemic in DRC. The Ebola virus is extremely contagious. It can spread quickly through direct contact with blood and other bodily fluids of infected people.

UNICEF says it is scaling up operations in the region to promote prevention measures. It says school principals and teachers will receive training on Ebola prevention and protection and on how to educate children on good hygiene practices to avoid the spread of the virus.

Spokesman Christophe Boulierac said UNICEF and its partners had reached more than 2 million people with Ebola prevention messages since the start of the outbreak on August 1.

"An increasing number of communities are now aware about Ebola and ... they know better how to prevent its transmission," Boulierac said. "The active involvement of concerned communities is key to stopping the spread of the disease. So, we are working closely with them to promote handwashing and good hygiene practices."

According to the latest World Health Organization estimates, there have been 116 cases of Ebola, including 77 deaths, in the DRC. UNICEF said children make up an unusually high proportion of people affected by the disease. It noted that 24 percent of confirmed cases were in people under age 24.

Boulierac said more than 150 psychosocial workers had been trained to help comfort children infected with the disease in treatment centers. He said they also would support children who were discharged as free of Ebola but were at risk of stigmatization upon returning to their communities.

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Tags: Africa

NASA Offers Challenge with $750,000 Reward to Further Mars Goal


WASHINGTON, (VOANEWS).- The U.S. space agency NASA is offering a public challenge, with a lofty $750,000 reward, to anyone who can find ways to turn carbon dioxide into compounds that would be useful on Mars.

Calling it the “CO2 Conversion Challenge,” NASA scientists say they need help finding a way to turn a plentiful resource like carbon dioxide into a variety of useful products in order to make trips to Mars possible.

Carbon dioxide is one resource that is readily abundant within the Martian atmosphere.

Scientists say astronauts attempting space travel to Mars will not be able to bring everything they need to the red planet, so will have to figure out ways to use local resources once they get there to create what they need.

“Enabling sustained human life on another planet will require a great deal of resources and we cannot possibly bring everything we will need. We have to get creative,” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program.

She said if scientists could learn to transform “resource like carbon dioxide into a variety of useful products, the space — and terrestrial — applications are endless.”

Carbon and oxygen are the molecular building blocks of sugars.

On Earth, plants can easily and inexpensively turn carbon dioxide and water into sugar. However, scientists say this approach would be difficult to replicate in space because of limited resources, such as energy and water.

NASA says the competition is divided into two phases. During the first phase, individuals or teams would submit a design and description of their proposal, with up to five teams winning $50,000 each. In the second phase, the finalists would build and present a demonstration of their proposals, with the winning individual or team earning $750,000.

Those who are up for the challenge need to register by Jan. 24, 2019, and then officially apply by Feb. 28, 2019.

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Tags: The United States Mars NASA



TAIPEI, (NDT).- President Tsai Ing-wen said Sept. 4 that the country’s athletes, coaches and support staff showed the world the true spirit of Taiwan at the Asian Games in Indonesia and pledged to invest more in elite sport.

The hard work of the team raised Taiwan’s profile on the global stage and contributed to the greatness of the nation, Tsai said. Accordingly, the government and the people stand humbled by this effort and are deeply grateful, she added.

Tsai made the remarks while receiving members of Team Taiwan at the Office of the President in Taipei City. The 730-plus contingent won 17 golds, 19 silvers and 31 bronzes—the country’s biggest medal haul in 20 years at the quadrennial event.

According to Tsai, a number of the golds were firsts for Taiwan in the events and saw the athletes set new national records or personal milestones. She singled out Lee Chih-kai, Tai Tzu-ying and Wen Tzu-yun for achieving such honors in the women’s badminton singles, male pommel horse and women’s karate 55-kilogram division, respectively.

Tsai, who also praised the team’s chef, dietician, medical staffers, physiotherapists and trainers for outstanding contributions to the successful games campaign, said the medal tally demonstrates Taiwan can punch above its weight as a sporting nation.

Going forward, Tsai said providing athletes with enhanced support so they can scale even greater heights for Taiwan is a top priority for the government. The Sports Administration under the Ministry of Education is working to ensure the national team receives everything it needs to outperform at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, she added.

Tsai said this commitment, which includes doubling sports-related budgets and rolling out innovative policies, is expected to help athletes fully focus on earning Taiwan a place at the top table of international sport. (SFC-E)

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Tags: Tsai Ing-wen Taiwán