North Korea cyber warfare programme detailed by new HP report

HP has released a new study that shows North Korea has a complex web of organisations responsible for organising cyber attacks and waging war against the US and South Korea.

Related: North Korea’s new operating system bears uncanny resemblance to Apple’s OS X

The report aimed to get to the bottom of how advanced the country’s cyber operations are and, even with a dearth of new information, it was able to create a solid picture of what the country has in terms of a cyber arsenal.

A complex web of entities controls how North Korea’s regime carries out the cyber activities that provides it with access to the outside world without leaving itself open to interference from anything outside its borders.

Central to this is the Liaison Department of the Worker’s Party that is responsible for a group of North Koreans living in Japan that goes by the name Chongryon and is critical to the regime’s overseas money making activities and cyber warfare.

“Chongryon is virtually under the direct control of the Liaison Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea, which has been in charge of North Korea’s covert operations and underground activities against South Korea. Chongryon in Japan has been a strong support organisation aimed at bringing a revolution in South Korea, or a red unification by force,” stated the report.

Education in North Korea has a heavy focus on mathematics that eventually gives way to computer science courses that centre on programming and it leads the report to suggest that cyber espionage and warfare is at the heart of this.

North Korean hacking and cyber attacks are almost always targeted at the US or South Korea and the DarkSeoul malware, reportedly created by North Korea’s Lab 110, gained notoriety for attacks against both countries.

“While North Korea does not have an immersive digital culture, both the U.S. and South Korea are heavily dependent upon technological infrastructure for social, economic, and political stability. For this reason, a cyber attack that cripples or compromises the reliability of the U.S. or South Korea’s technological infrastructure could have a far-reaching impact,” the report stated.

HP advises that “we should not overestimate” North Korea’s cyber capabilities and warned that attacks only usually take place in response to a political trigger such as US Independence Day or the anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

It goes on to warn that western entities should avoid promoting any ideas that could be slanderous to North Korea as it could cause them to be the “focal point for North Korean cyber attacks”.

Related: North Korea Twitter and Flickr accounts hacked by Anonymous

The full report is available at this link.