North Korea missile test is a ‘major threat’ to US says Jack Keane
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Primary school-aged boys are reportedly being whisked off to Pyongyang to be trained as the country’s future warrior elite. But the alarm has been raised in the West over the capability of these hackers with warnings the NHS could be a victim of the secretive nation.
In his latest column in the MailOnline, Tom Leonard said the “state-endorsed” hackers are capable of “breaking into everything” including TV stations, banks, hospitals.
He wrote: “UK victims have ranged from the NHS to a TV production company planning to make a drama about a British nuclear scientist held hostage in North Korea.
“The hackers are highly unpredictable and, more importantly, unconcerned about being identified — which makes them particularly dangerous.
“Why should they worry, after all, when they operate from deep within a pariah state that funds, trains and rewards them generously for their work?
“Politicians and security experts have been warning for years about the rising dangers of cyber attacks.
“When hackers could cripple a country’s entire power supply or other essential services, we need to stop thinking about wars as struggles between conventional armed forces.”
According to a recent report in the New Yorker, hackers have undertaken operations in more than 150 countries around the world.
John Demers, assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice, said North Korean hackers have “become the world’s leading bank robbers”.
He claimed China and Russia are aware of what North Korea is up to but they do not want Pyongyang “to fail”.
Mr Demers said: “North Korea is connected to the world through essentially Russian and Chinese infrastructure.
“There are strong indications that Russia and China are well aware of what’s going on and actively have facilitated some of it.”
This is not the first time allegations of hacking have emerged from North Korea.
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In the past North Korea has supported its weapons development through illicit activities including importing oil in breach of sanctions, as well as stealing cryptocurrency via cyberattacks.
Pyongyang is believed to have stolen more than $316million in virtual assets between 2019 and November 2020, the report said.
In January, Pyongyang was believed to have been testing its own Covid vaccine created using secret data stolen by hackers.
Mun Chong Hyun, the head of the ESTsecurity Security Response Centre (ESRC), claimed it is hard to keep track of what data was taken as there have been several attacks on overseas pharmaceutical companies by the group, dubbed Bureau 325, since October.
He told Daily NK: “Because of the nature of cyberattacks, it’s hard to exactly confirm what kind of data North Korea stole, but it’s possible that some data was taken.”
When Kim Jong-un took over from his father in 2012, he said cyber prowess was an “all-purpose sword that guarantees the North Korean People’s Armed Forces ruthless striking capability, along with nuclear weapons and missiles”.
Back in 2017, more than 600 NHS sites were crippled and 19,000 operations were cancelled as a result of a hack.
The virus locked systems and demanded a ransom in Bitcoin.
It is believed North Korean hackers have also raided Bitcoin exchanges using fake IDs and elaborate scams.
In 2019, the United Nations estimated the regime had already been able to spend more than £1million from stolen money on weapons including nuclear missiles.
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