Defectors from North Korea have revealed to investigators that the hacking attack on Sony Pictures may very well have just been a practice run for the North Korean cyber-army. Their ultimate goal is to cripple the telecoms and energy grids of their enemies... like the United States. According to Reuters, the non-conventional weapons of choice for the impoverished, isolated country are things like cyber-warfare and nuclear technology.
Experts say that North Korea is obsessed with the idea that it will be overrun by the United States and South Korea, and it's been working for years on the ability to disrupt or destroy vital public services that are operated via computers in foreign countries, according to Kim Heung-kwang, a computer science professor from North Korea who defected to the south.
"North Korea's ultimate goal in cyber strategy is to be able to attack national infrastructure of South Korea and the United States. The hacking of Sony Pictures is similar to previous attacks that were blamed on North Korea and is a result of training and efforts made with the goal of destroying infrastructure."
The recent assault on Sony Pictures is now considered to be North Korea's most successful hack attack, causing the studio to shelve a completed motion picture (The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco) because the North Korean government found the content offensive.
Up until yesterday, no one was really sure that North Korea had made the cyber-attack on Sony. While not officially accusing North Korea, sources from the U.S. government stated yesterday that investigators had determined the attack on Sony was "state sponsored," and North Korea was involved.
Jang Se-yul, who studied at a military college for computer science in North Korea before escaping to the South, talked about the North's cyber army.
"They have trained themselves by launching attacks related to electronic networks."
In a country that is cut off from the rest of the planet, a country that is suffering overwhelming economic anemia, cyber-warfare certainly looks like North Korea's best bet to even the odds with their enemies. Lim Jong-in, dean of the Korea University Graduate School of Information Security in Seoul, commented on what North Korea is doing.
"When you look at military capabilities, there are various aspects like nuclear and conventional. But with the economic environment and difficulties [the North] faces, there is bound to be limitation in raising nuclear capabilities or submarines or conventional power. But cyber capability is all about people... I believe it is the most effective path to strengthening the North's military power."
[Image via Kimmelstore]