North Korea Building An Army Of Hackers, Conducting Cyber-Warfare From China, Elsewhere

North Korea has recently increased its cyber-warfare divisions, doubling the communist nation’s elite cyber warfare branch, according to an AFP report out of Seoul. The cyber warfare unit has been bolstered to 5,900 personnel whose focus involves sending malware and virus carrying email to opposing militaries. They conduct these attacks from bases inside China and other allied countries.

The military source who revealed that North Korea has elite hackers conducting cyber attacks from bases in China and elsewhere, said:

“The communist country operates a hacking unit under its General Bureau of Reconnaissance, which is home to some 1,200 professional hackers.”

In recent years, several investigations into large scale cyber attacks have regularly ended up pointing to North Korea as the likely instigator.

The cyber attacks are not limited to military targets, either. North Korea follows a form of communism that by definition considers capitalism to be an enemy. According to the AFP report, they has conducted cyber attacks from their bases in China and elsewhere against the South Korean military, government agencies, media broadcasting websites, TV broadcasters and commercial banks.

South Korea has been operating a cyber command to counter the threat of cyber warfare from the north since 2010, according to a report in Rappler. The report suggests that the South Koreans have intensified their efforts to counter the threat of cyber attack from hackers in North Korea recently. North Korea, for its part, denies that they are connecting cyber attacks, claiming that South Korea is simply trying to intensify tension between the rival Koreas.

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North Korea regularly accuses the south and other nations of trying to provoke them for everything from running routine military drills to bringing a Bible into the country, to filming movies dictator Kim Jong Un disapproves of. In most cases, the saber rattling is a thinly veiled attempt to receive concessions and handouts from the U.S., South Korea and other governments.

The Korean War, in which the Korean Peninsula was split into a democratic South Korea and a communist North Korea, has never officially ended, though a cease fire has been in effect since 1953.

What do you think? Do the U.S., South Korea and other free market democracies need to be concerned about the hackers from North Korea? Do they pose a serious military or economic threat? If so, how should we go about countering the threat of cyber warfare from North Korea?

[Image via Shutterstock]