North Korea denies role in WannaCry ransomware attack

WannaCry infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations in May, encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back. (AFP)
Updated 21 December 2017
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North Korea denies role in WannaCry ransomware attack

SEOUL: North Korea on Thursday denied US accusations it was behind the WannaCry global ransomware cyberattack, saying Washington was demonizing it.
WannaCry infected some 300,000 computers in 150 nations in May, encrypting user files and demanding hundreds of dollars from their owners for the keys to get them back.
The White House this week blamed Pyongyang for it, adding its voice to several other countries that had already done so.
A spokesman for Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said the US allegations were “absurd,” adding: “As we have clearly stated on several occasions, we have nothing to do with cyber-attacks.”
Washington had “ulterior” motives, the spokesman added according to the North’s KCNA news agency.
“This move is a grave political provocation by the US aimed at inducing the international society into a confrontation against the DPRK by tarnishing the image of the dignified country and demonizing it,” he said.
North Korea is subject to multiple United Nations sanctions over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and tested its third ICBM last month.
Leader Kim Jong-Un declared his country had achieved full nuclear statehood, in a challenge to US President Donald Trump who responded with promises of “major sanctions.”
According to experts North Korea’s cyberwarfare targets have expanded from the political — it was accused of hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 to take revenge for “The Interview,” a satirical film that mocked Kim — to the financial, as it seeks new sources of funding.
A South Korean cryptocurrency exchange shut down on Tuesday after losing 17 percent of its assets in a hacking — its second cyberattack this year, with the North accused of involvement in the first.
Investigators are probing the possibility that Pyongyang was also behind Tuesday’s incident, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News reported.
The North is blamed for a massive $81 million cyber-heist from the Bangladesh Central Bank (BCB) in 2016, as well as the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank in October.
Pyongyang has angrily denied the accusations — which it described as a “slander” against the authorities — but analysts say the digital footprints left behind suggest otherwise.


Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

Updated 17 April 2018
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Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

  • Previous research has shown a new blood test has potential to detect eight different kinds of tumors before they spread
  • The research starts in April and will run until September

TOKYO: A Japanese firm is poised to carry out what it hailed as the world’s first experiment to test for cancer using urine samples, which would greatly facilitate screening for the deadly disease.
Engineering and IT conglomerate Hitachi developed the basic technology to detect breast or colon cancer from urine samples two years ago.
It will now begin testing the method using some 250 urine samples, to see if samples at room temperature are suitable for analysis, Hitachi spokesman Chiharu Odaira told AFP.
“If this method is put to practical use, it will be a lot easier for people to get a cancer test, as there will be no need to go to a medical organization for a blood test,” he said.
It is also intended to be used to detect paediatric cancers.
“That will be especially beneficial in testing for small children” who are often afraid of needles, added Odaira.
Research published earlier this year demonstrated that a new blood test has shown promise toward detecting eight different kinds of tumors before they spread elsewhere in the body.
Usual diagnostic methods for breast cancer consist of a mammogram followed by a biopsy if a risk is detected.
For colon cancer, screening is generally conducted via a stool test and a colonoscopy for patients at high risk.
The Hitachi technology centers around detecting waste materials inside urine samples that act as a “biomarker” — a naturally occurring substance by which a particular disease can be identified, the company said in a statement.
The procedure aims to improve the early detection of cancer, saving lives and reducing the medical and social cost to the country, Odaira explained.
The experiment will start this month until through September in cooperation with Nagoya University in central Japan.
“We aim to put the technology in use in the 2020s, although this depends on various things such as getting approval from the authorities,” Odaira said.