Whenever North Korea talked about being a world power, for years, everyone laughed. There was ample reason for the snickering, too. The nation cannot feed themselves, most of the country has no electricity, and most of their weaponry consists of cast-offs from a bygone era. However, as they proved with Sony and many times since, hacking is the one area where the North Koreans can hold their own with anybody.
The New York Times reports that they tried to steal a staggering $1 billion from the N.Y. Federal Reserve and were only felled by a spelling mistake. Likewise, writing “fandation” instead of “foundation” was the only blunder that stopped the Bangladesh Central Bank from losing more than the $81 million that Kim Jong-un stole before the error was noticed. This has all worked to make the world take the crazed kingdom much more seriously than in prior times.
We are reminded that N.K. “brought down hundreds of thousands of computers across dozens of countries” in a malware attack and even drove Britain’s National Health Service to a grinding halt last May.
There are at least 6,000 hackers actively working with/for the Hermit Kingdom and reports say that they are getting better and more precise by the hack.
Very little has been made about their cyberhacking activities compared to their nuclear ambitions and the DPRK likely thinks that no nation will use the military to address a cyber act.
“Cyber is a tailor-made instrument of power for them,” admitted Chris Inglis, a former deputy director of the National Security Agency. He is currently a cybersecurity teacher for the United States Naval Academy.
He adds that this costs very little to do and says, “There’s a low cost of entry, it’s largely asymmetrical, there’s some degree of anonymity and stealth in its use. It can hold large swaths of nation-state infrastructure and private-sector infrastructure at risk. It’s a source of income.”
“You could argue that they have one of the most successful cyber programs on the planet, not because it’s technically sophisticated, but because it has achieved all of their aims at very low cost,” Inglis also said.
There is even talk that the evil “KIMdom” has planted bugs into the South Korean system that could shut down their electrical grid and more. Robert Hannigan, the former director of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters addressed this when he said, “Because they are such a mix of the weird and absurd and medieval and highly sophisticated, people didn’t take it seriously.”
“How can such an isolated, backward country have this capability? Well, how can such an isolated backward country have this nuclear ability?” he asked rhetorically about how the N.K.’s prowess in this regard has “crept up” on them.
The New York Times goes into great depth about how this came to be, but basically, they hand-picked the best pupils to enroll into computer classes with the aim of hacking other nations. They sent them to the best schools in the world and have achieved their goals using the best college minds in the West to do it.
This was allowed to happen by the very system that allowed them to learn such skills. That means that not only is the world no longer laughing, but quite frankly, they are scared to even turn on their computers.
Source: The New York Times