South Korea Fears North Amassing Army of Hackers

Malware a lot easier to make than nukes, experts note

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 25, 2013 2:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – The massive cyberattack that hit South Korea last week may be just a taste of things to come as North Korea builds a team of "cyberwarriors," experts say. South Korean investigators have yet to prove that Pyongyang was behind the attack, but authorities in Seoul say Pyongyang has been behind at least six cyberattacks over the last few years and has been dumping resources into IT projects that include its own "Red Star" operating system, the AP reports. American and South Korean officials believe Pyongyang has recruited thousands of hackers, sending the best of them for training in China.

Experts note that creating malware is a far easier and cheaper way for North Korea to attack the West than building weapons of mass destruction—and with most ordinary North Koreans more concerned with getting enough to eat than with computing, there is little scope for retaliation. "North Korea has nothing to lose in a cyberbattle," a professor at Korea University's Department of Cyberdefense says. "Even if North Korea turns out to be the attacker behind the broadcasters' hacking, there is no target for South Korean retaliation."

A North Korean soldier works at a computer terminal under portraits of late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il inside the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang.
A North Korean soldier works at a computer terminal under portraits of late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il inside the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
North Koreans work on computer terminals at a library in Pyongyang.
North Koreans work on computer terminals at a library in Pyongyang.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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