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North Korea’s Cyber Pirates Pillage $1 Billion Annually, Is Your Country Safe? – Part 2

Daniel Kim Views  

North Korea’s usage of stolen virtual assets as a source of funds for the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), such as nuclear weapons and missiles, is a well-known fact. Cyber attacks are being used as a means for North Korea, which cannot engage in regular trade activities, to acquire foreign currency needed for nuclear and missile development.

An official from the Korean Cyber Security Association, designated as a cyber security specialist agency by the National Intelligence Service, analyzed, “Since the UN Security Council began actively imposing economic sanctions on North Korea in 2006, North Korea is estimated to be securing half of its total foreign currency income through cyber attacks, and using these funds to cover 40% of the resources for WMD development such as nuclear weapons.”

The pattern of cyber attacks by North Korean hacker forces, which used to focus solely on cash or financial institution theft for earning foreign currency, is changing recently. According to the report Cyber Threats of North Korea in the Kim Jong Un Era and Responses of Major Countries published by the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS) under the National Intelligence Service, Kim Jong Un’s strong attachment to cyber warfare has led to the characteristics of cyber attacks changing in a differentiated manner over time, linked to North Korea’s national strategy.

Professor Park Chun Sik of Ajou University’s Department of Cyber Security evaluated that North Korea’s illegal cyber attacks have been expanding to include the collection of medical information to support the civilian economy, foreign currency earnings, and new technology theft for nuclear weapon sophistication. Based on the COVID-19 situation, attacks have also been launched to provoke conflict between the South and the North.

Concerning this, the National Intelligence Service also revealed that North Korea commits 80% of hacking against domestic public institutions. The hacking targets range from domestic public institutions to agricultural technology and defense company weapon manufacturing technology theft, and even institutions that should not be breached are increasingly being left defenseless, which has been pointed out as problematic. Above all, North Korea’s attempts to cyber attack domestic defense companies are rapidly increasing. In particular, the aviation industry accounts for about a quarter of the total, the most significant proportion, followed by tanks (17%), satellites (16%), and ships (11%).

The National Intelligence Service judges that North Korea’s hacking crimes are being directly commanded by Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, who personally selects the targets. Last year, when North Korea was suffering from a food shortage, attacks were concentrated on domestic agricultural and fisheries research institutions. After mentioning naval power enhancement in August and September last year, it was found that they hacked domestic shipbuilding companies and stole blueprints and design data. In October last year, after Kim Jong Un ordered the strengthening of drone and unmanned vehicle production, the National Intelligence Service analyzed that they hacked drone engine data from domestic and foreign companies and related sites.

North Korea has also attempted hacking several times against companies in generous countries such as Russia. The National Intelligence Service reported that it has been confirmed that North Korea attacked the defense sector in at least 25 countries, including South Korea and Russia, over the past four years (2020-2023). An official from the National Cyber Cooperation Center affiliated with the National Cyber Security Center of the National Intelligence Service emphasized, “The tanks and surface-to-air missiles developed by North Korea are very similar to those of Russia,” and “They utilize the stolen design drawings and other data for weapon development and sell them abroad to the partner who has no distinction between ally and enemies.”

To Read Part 1…

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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