North Korea has long been stirring controversies mainly to fight for its place in the world as one of the most powerful and dangerous countries there is. The reclusive country’s political agenda has always been pointed towards securing itself a certain reputation especially for its notorious leader Kim Jong-un. Wanting to be seen as a force not to be reckoned with, North Korea has turned to various methods of wreaking havoc and one of them is cyberwarfare.
Many would be surprised to find out that North Korea, in spite of having very limited resources, has some of the best and most unpredictable group of hackers in the world. When you add the North Koreans’ immense sense of patriotism and loyalty towards its leader in the equation, you have got a team of extremely dangerous hackers all dedicated to doing everything it takes to make their country and Kim Jong-un a threat to the rest of the world.
The country has successfully made itself a power player in the hacking industry that it has become the lead suspect in the WannaCry virus attacks that have affected hundreds of thousands of computers around the globe. This virus has infected the software of banks, hospitals, government offices, and other major institutions in more than 150 countries with the end goal of getting ransom in exchange for giving the institutions their data back. In fact, the virus has gotten so big that different versions of it have already been released with some believed to be released by copycats. Although it has vastly spread around the world, experts say that the group behind the attacks has only collected around $50,000.
Experts were adamant in naming the country as a possible player because of some suspicious code similarities with the original version of the virus and the virus behind the 2014 Sony Pictures attack. The Lazarus Group, a team of North Korean hackers behind the Sony Pictures hacking, is known to perform infiltration and intelligence operations for North Korea. This attack on the entertainment giant made headlines because the hackers released confidential information such as employee salaries and unreleased movies. This attack was a retaliation for the company’s controversial movie, “The Interview”, which portrayed North Korea in a negative light.
Another cyberattack that made headlines was the hacking of the Central Bank of Bangladesh last year which transferred around $81 million from the major institution to a bank account in the Philippines. In 2013, a similar heist targeted various financial institutions in Asia. Although the 2016 bank heist is still under investigation, experts have revealed compelling evidence linking the Lazarus Group to this cyberattack. If this ends up being true, North Korean hackers do this not only for espionage, but also to steal money, which can potentially lead to even bigger problems. Just from these events, it is apparent that North Korean hackers will attack anyone at the most unprecedented circumstances, and those are just the cyberattacks that have gone public.
It is important to note that North Korea indeed has some but not all of the best hackers in the world. In fact, there have been speculations that North Korea’s failed missile launches may have been caused by a cyberattack on the nation. In recent Trump news, the President neither confirmed nor denied such speculations. However, a recent report from the New York Times revealed that there are confidential operations being done to disrupt North Korea’s nuclear weapon development program. If there’s anything one can take away from North Korea’s hacking capabilities is that no one is completely invulnerable from such attacks, even North Korea itself.