The secretive communist state has been widely identified within security circles as the source of the WannaCry global attack in May.

Yesterday Home Office Minister Ben Wallace said: “North Korea was the state that we believe was involved this worldwide attack. We can be as sure as possible – I can’t obviously go into the detailed intelligence – but it is widely believed in the community and across a number of countries that North Korea had taken this role.”

Mr Wallace suggested the attack was motivated by North Korea’s need for funds.

The state, led by dictator Kim Jong-un, is operating under increasingly tough economic sanctions imposed as punishment for testing long-range missiles.

May’s cyber attack infected and locked more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries in a matter of days, demanding ransom payments for letting users back into their systems.

The attack on the NHS led to an estimated 20,000 appointments, including 139 potential cancer referrals, being cancelled and five hospitals had to turn ambulances away.

Mr Wallace spoke after the National Audit Office published a scathing report yesterday, which reported that the cyber attack had affected computers at 81 English health trusts plus nearly 600 GP surgeries, stating that the cyber attack could have been prevented if “basic IT security” measures to update protections had been taken. READ MORE…