The U.S. Treasury Department has placed sanctions on North Korean hackers, who it holds responsible for major global cyberattacks.
In a statement on Friday, local time, the Treasury Department announced the action against the group, known as the "Lazarus Group", along with two of its sub-groups.
They're controlled by the North's primary intelligence bureau, which has already been placed under sanctions by the U.S. and the UN Security Council.
These groups are accused of organizing the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack, as well as other cyber-attacks on international organizations.
According to the department, Lazarus Group targets government, military, financial and entertainment-related institutions, using tactics such as cyber espionage, data theft, and destructive malware operations.
It's already well-known for its cyber-attacks against Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014.
Claiming that these groups' activities served to fund the regime's illicit weapon and missile programs, the department added that it will continue to enforce U.S. and UN sanctions to enhance the cybersecurity of financial networks against North Korea's attempts.
This is the fifth set of U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea this year.
It comes just days after U.S. President Donald Trump fired his National Security Advisor John Bolton, known for his hardline stance against Pyeongyang.
There had been speculation that Bolton's sacking could signal Washington adopting a softer stance toward North Korea.
But the latest announcement shows that the Trump administration will be keeping pressure on the North, even while maintaining dialogue.
Coming at a time when Pyeongyang and Washington are anticipated to resume their denuclearization talks later this month, it remains to be seen how the North will accept the latest sanctions, and how it will affect the nuclear negotiations.
Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.