The United States secretly penetrated North Korea’s computer systems four years ago — a breach that allowed Washington to insist Pyongyang was to blame for the recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures, the New York Times reported Monday.

Citing former US officials and a newly released National Security Agency (NSA) document, the Times detailed how the US spy agency in 2010 “penetrated directly” into the North’s systems via Chinese networks and connections in Malaysia favored by North Korean hackers.

Primarily aimed at gathering information on the reclusive nation’s nuclear program, the NSA’s clandestine operation switched focus to the growing threat posed by North Korea’s hacking capabilities following a destructive cyberattack on South Korean banks in 2013.

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