Recently, specialists of the american company McAfee have said that the organisations associated with the future olympic Games in South Korea have been targeted by hackers. Malicious hackers have attempted to penetrate the computers of these institutions to recover passwords or financial data. Whereas up to now, no one is pointing a finger of suspicion on the involvement of Pyongyang emerge.
North Korea is increasingly active in cyberspace
Indeed, the cyber-threat north korea is more serious than its nuclear weapons, warn experts. Kim Jong-un is using his cyber-weapon for political ends and military. The country is accused of conducting attacks on a large scale.
In 2013, Seoul has suffered a cyber attack on a mass scale. Hackers have used malicious software to cripple the computer networks of three television channels and two banks, in a context of serious tensions with North Korea. According to the representatives of Nonghyup and Shinhan Bank, about 32 000 computers have been contaminated.
In the Face of international sanctions, Pyongyang began to seek other means, including illegal, to fund themselves. According to many companies in computer security, a hacker group from north korea, known under the name of Lazarus, is the author of several attacks against banks, including the central bank of Bangladesh in 2016. The criminals have managed to steal 81 million ($71.5 million) on account of the federal Reserve system.
In a context of prohibitions restricting the flow of money, the country turns towards the Bitcoin, and other crypto-currencies. Hackers from north korea are intended to continuously trade in South Korea. According to Naeem Aslam, a commentator on CNBC, Bloomberg and Forbes, ” Pyongyang has an army of hackers that target constantly South Korea, which remains one of the hubs of crypto-currencies. This strategy could help the country to circumvent many trade restrictions, which also include the new sanctions “.
North Korea is also responsible, according to the american specialists, the cyber-attack world Wannacry, which had infected hundreds of thousands of computers in 150 countries in may last year and cost billions.
Thus, it is obvious that more international pressure is increasing, the more Pyongyang is stepping up its attacks against the financial sector, which allows it to stay afloat.
The elite unit of the north Korean regime
According to the former director of the GCHQ, the department of electronic information of the government of the United Kingdom, Robert Hannigan, North Korea is home to 1 700 hackers funded by the State and more than 5,000 trainers and support teams. They work within the main agency north Korean intelligence (RGB), known as the cell 586. Of the seven units, one in charge of cyber-attacks abroad, the Bureau 121, dubbed Hidden Cobra by the department of homeland Security of the United States. The private companies have baptized all the hackers are north Korean Lazarus. We also speak of Bluenoroff, hackers specialized in attacks on financial institutions and the theft of money. But the exact number of groups attached to the cyberarmée of Kim Jong-un is unknown.
The specialists indicate that the techniques hackers north koreans are becoming more sophisticated and their attacks are increasing in number. According to general Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the u.s. Forces in South Korea, Pyongyang is able to launch cyber attacks are most effective on a global scale. The cyberunités of Kim Jong-un have learned of the methods of hackers the most daring in the world. Today, North Korea has the technical capabilities so advanced that it can address the information systems of critical infrastructures. The study of the activities of the hackers in north korea demonstrates that they target the most often telecommunications companies and financial institutions in South Korea.
In spite of the attempts of the two Koreas to ease tensions, it is unlikely that Pyongyang suspend its activities in cyberspace. And the winter olympics can become a great opportunity for Kim Jong-un to show the world his muscles, especially if any of the athletes from north korea may not be on the podium in Pyeongchang.
Some experts even argue that the talks are inter-Korean are a farce played by Kim Jong-un to gain time to divert attention from its nuclear program. However, the recent activities of hackers demonstrate that the cyberarmée north korea is ready to strike. Certainly, the success of negotiations with South Korea could reduce the chances of attack. But whatever the outcome, Pyongyang will never give up the idea of developing its nuclear weapons or its capabilities in terms of computer.
Source : Europe1, The Challenges, The Cypherbrief