Pyongyang’s hacking skills show progress

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Pyongyang’s hacking skills show progress

North Korea hacked the website of a South Korean aerospace company earlier this month, but no serious damage occurred, according to a local intelligence official Monday.

The source, who requested anonymity as he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue, said the South’s National Intelligence Service began investigating the case on Jan. 11 and recently concluded that North Korea infiltrated the website.

The latest hack was more sophisticated than previous cyber attacks in the sense that the North was able to individually extract data from whoever logged into the page from South Korea, a scheme that is harder to detect than having an entire website paralyzed, as was usually the case in the past.

The North’s apparent technological development, said the source, is what prompted the National Intelligence Service to look into the matter, a task that was supposed to be handled by the Defense Security Command.

“They could’ve been aiming for someone from the company, the Ministry of National Defense, or an external expert who held military-related data,” said the source. Otherwise, the North might have been preparing for a larger cyber attack on the South’s entire internet network, the official continued.

The two Koreas have a long history when it comes to cyber warfare. Last month, a senior government official from the South Korean military accused Pyongyang of contaminating 3,200 computers in the South with malware, including 700 in the Defense Ministry’s intranet and 2,500 military computers connected to the internet.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo’s computer was compromised, as well.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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