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North Korean hacking groups target South Korea defence contractors

Written by Thu 25 Apr 2024

South Korean police have confirmed a significant hacking campaign by North Korean groups, including Lazarus, Kimsuky, and Andariel, targeting over 80 defence contractors in a coordinated effort over the past year.

In collaboration with South Korea’s national spy agency and industry experts, police in the country were able to identify hackers and source their IP addresses. By exploiting security gaps left by staff at defence subcontractors, confidential technical data was extracted. The names of the companies who were hacked or saw data breaches have not been publicly released.

KED Global reported an official at the South Korean investigation office said North Korea is expected to continue cyberattacks to steal defence technology.

“We will make efforts to strengthen the security of the defence industry with the [Seoul’s arms procurement agency the Defense Acquisition Program Administration],” added the official.

The defence companies that had been targeted and hacked were unaware before police got in touch during the investigation. Despite the nation of North Korea being isolated, the country has extremely effective cybersecurity capabilities and has a long history of successful attacks against targets globally.

Detailed designs for a modern 3000-ton submarine and a supersonic jet were stolen by North Korean hacking groups, with the Bangladesh central bank also losing £64.6 million ($81 million) from an attack. Weak cybersecurity practices at South Korean firms have enabled several North Korean attacks to be successful, with employees using the same password for personal and professional systems.

“North Korean arms are getting increasingly similar to those of the South. The shape of the KN-23, the North’s surface-to-surface missile recently identified is similar to the Hyunmoo-4, our ballistic missile,” said an unnamed expert in a KED Global report.

The unnamed expert added it ‘will be a huge hit if data on missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles were leaked’.

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Written by Thu 25 Apr 2024

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