In the latest indication that North Korea’s cyber operations are more sophisticated than commonly realized, computer security researchers have identified a group of government hackers and spies in the hermit kingdom who are capable of stealing documents from computers that aren’t connected to the internet.
According to the co-founder of the information security firm that investigated the 2016 Democratic National Committee hacks, highly skilled DPRK hackers may attack US financial sector to deter military action against the regime.
US intelligence confirms it was Russia that ruined the opening ceremonies of South Korean Winter Olympics by hacking into the computer network, thus disrupting the ticketing and broadcast systems in retaliation for banning the Russian team for doping violations — and tried to leave digital fingerprints that would pin the blame on North Korea. US officials declined to comment to the Washington Post, but if the report is accurate, Russia’s tactic was a savvy one.
However, the intelligence team said that North Korea may still be the bigger threat.
North Korea has flexed its hacking capabilities several times in recent years, in campaigns ranging from spreading of Lazarus Group’s WannaCry ransomware to its suspected hack of Sony Pictures in 2014.
In a new paper published Tuesday morning, leading cyber-security firm FireEye says its iSight intelligence arm has tracked a national-security related spying arm it calls APT37 that has “expanded its operations in both scope and sophistication.”
That hacking group — which is not the one that attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment — has been active since 2012 and focuses on defence targets in South Korea, FireEye says.
Dmitri Alperovitch, the co-founder of cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, told The Guardian Monday that he’s more concerned about North Korea’s cyber attack capacity than Russia’s. Still, the February 16 indictment by a US federal grand jury of thirteen Russian nationals for influencing the 2016 presidential election suggest the country is more than holding its own.