North Korea’s hacking abilities ‘beyond imagination,’ defector says

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North Korea’s hacking capabilities are “beyond imagination,” one former computer expert for the North told ABC News in the wake of Tuesday’s report that the nation had stolen secret intelligence documents, including the U.S.-South Korean war strategy.

Secret intelligence documents and photos unilaterally collected by the U.S. military were among the stolen cache of South Korea’s classified documents by North Korean hackers, but the totality of what was stolen remains unknown, according to South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee.

Malware contamination of the intranet server of the cyber command that occurred in September last year was confirmed by the South Korea’s Defense Ministry in May but this is the first glimpse of the scope of the damage.

The stolen trove totals about 235 gigabytes of data, equivalent to 15 million pages of documents. About 80 percent of the stolen materials have yet to be identified. But among them, Lee said, were U.S.-South Korean plans for a decapitation strike against North Korea to remove Kim Jong Un, as well as classified reconnaissance information collected by the U.S. military shared with the South Koreans.

Although there are strict security restrictions in using computers within the military, Lee says huge “holes” have been exposed at times when the intranet and the extranet were connected. North Korean hackers were able to steal data through malicious virus codes that they had implanted inside a software vaccine company that provide exclusive services as a subcontractor to the South Korean military, according to Lee.

The North has previously been accused of hacking into other South Korean government agencies, banks and media outlets as well, but Pyongyang has denied allegations of cyber crime involvement.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry would not comment to ABC News, citing national security concerns. The Pentagon says it’s closely working with international partners to identify, track and counter cyber threats.

But many cybersecurity experts believe the North’s advancement in hacking skills has already gone past the level of concern to a “highly damageable” stage.

 

 

 

Source:  News agencies