The hacking group, which has been given the name Bureau 325, was created around a month ago on January 3. According to Daily NK, the new unit was specifically created to steal COVID-19 data from other countries, despite the fact that North Korea claims that the country is free from the disease.
Moreover, Daily NK claimed that Kim Jong Un is "directly handling the results" of all the information that it can access. Though the agency "nominally" under the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), it directly reports to and takes orders from Kim Jong Un rather than the RBG director. In addition, Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, also appears to be taking a leadership role in the bureau and has been described as "inspecting the organization's composition."
Though the unit is currently focused on retrieving medical data on the multiple COVID-19 vaccines and other medications that can help cure the virus, insiders have claimed that the goal of the group is to eventually branch out into other areas of cyber warfare including medical research and financial and technology information. The targets of the hacks will allegedly be all "major" nations, including China, the United States, and South Korea.
Though the number of hackers belonging to the unit keeps changing, there are reportedly five teams in total.
"Internally [in North Korea], it has two research labs with about 800 personnel," said the source.
"Overseas, it has three research labs, but it's hard to know how many personnel work for them."Hackers who have been recruited for the mysterious agency include everyone from "talented" members of existing hacking groups to top recent graduates from IT programs. All of those who are members of the team have been told to carry a number of forged documents, including at least two faked passports to evade foreign law enforcement.
Since the agency is still new, it is struggling with its own cyber-security and has been ordered to "build a thorough security system" by February 16, which is a national holiday that celebrates the birthday of the late leader Kim Jong Il.
Though North Korea has claimed that it has no cases of the coronavirus in its country, this is not the first time that officials have shown interest in accessing data on the disease. In fact, COVID-19 vaccine maker AstraZeneca was targeted by hackers based in the communist nation late last November, per The Inquisitr.