According to sources hackers attacked South Korean sites in order to obtain passwords and sensitive information related to the Olympic Games. According to cyber security company McAfee the hackers have tried to hack into the accounting records and mailboxes in varying degrees associated with the organization and conducting of the Olympics Games 2018. According to experts, the most likely perpetrators of these breaches are hackers from North Korea.
We regularly watch Pyongyang builds up its strength and becomes more powerful in cyberspace. Information operations in the network under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un turned into a weapon of war, which he has begun to use in the interests of espionage, theft of crypto currency, extortion, as well as for political purposes to demonstrate its abilities and deter opponents.
In 2013 the network infrastructure of the three major broadcasters and two banking institutions of the Republic of Korea were under a large-scale attack. As a result of the attack, the South Korean computers of KBS, MBC, YTN broadcasting companies hung up and did not reboot. The representatives of Shinhan Bank and Nonghyup Bank said that about 32,000 computers were infected and Internet banking and ATMs did not work.
International sanctions have forced North Korea’s leadership to seek alternative illegal sources of financing. In 2015, a series of cyber attacks followed on banks in the Philippines, Vietnam and Bangladesh. The malicious software were also detected on the infected computers of employees of banks in Poland, Brazil, Chile, Estonia, Mexico, Venezuela and even the United States.
In 2016, North Korean hackers tried to carry out almost the biggest bank robbery in the history. They were close to stealing a billion dollars from New York’s Federal Reserve, and only a typographical error in the word “foundation” prevented them from doing it.
Recently, hackers from North Korea attacked South Korea’s crypto currency exchanges and stood behind the spread of the Wanna Cry program, which has suspended the work of many organizations and hundreds of thousands computers around the world. Taking into account the “earned” sums of money, Pyongyang’s indifference to external economic and political pressure becomes clear, because the country will be able to stay afloat for a very long time.
According to Robert Hannigan, the former Director of the Great Britain Center for Government Communications, as of July 2017 North Korea had 1700 state-sponsored hackers and more than 5,000 support staff. Experts believe that all of them are part of the General Intelligence Directorate of the Korean Armed Forces known as the “Unit 586”. Of the seven directorates of the General Intelligence Directorate, the main unit responsible for cyber attacks abroad is the so-called “Bureau 121”. The US Department of Homeland Security calls this structure “Covert Cobra,” while private firms have given all North Korean hackers the common name Lazarus. No one knows how much various groups the whole cyber army is divided. Only the hackers involved in the operations for the extraction of financial resources have received their own name Blue nor off.
According to the Commander of the US Forces in South Korea, General Brooks, North Korea’s military potential is currently supported by the ability to perform some of the most effective and organized cyber attacks in the world.
As noted by the IT specialists, North-Korean hackers’ technology was becoming more sophisticated each time. Cyber units of Pyongyang learned from other cyber hackers who committed high-profile attacks during the last years, and copied their methods, fragments of codes and style. Currently, the cyber army of Pyongyang really has the technical capacity to carry out the high level attacks to the critical infrastructure.
After analyzing the previous activity of North Korea’s cyber soldiers, it can be concluded that the sphere of their interests also includes large South Korean telecommunications corporations, transport and financial companies, as well as Olympic organizations and facilities.
Some experts believe that the talks that have begun between Pyongyang and Seoul are the cunning of Kim Jong-Un, who needs to buy time and divert attention to prepare for active actions, including in cyberspace. However future depends on the success of the negotiations and the readiness of the South Korean authorities to make concessions to the new nuclear power. It is important to understand that, despite the softening of Kim Jong-UN’s rhetoric, Pyongyang will never give up the further development of its nuclear arsenal, as well as its own cyber weapons.-UNS/Agencies