SEOUL – South Korean mobile phone users could be the next target of a North Korean cyber attack, a former North Korean computer science professor told Seoul-based website Daily NK.
“I was told personally that the North Korean hackers active in China plan to ‘attack South Korean mobile users’ next […] in truth we are totally defenseless on mobile security,” Kim Heung Gwang was reported as saying.
“Even if the user is not using their camera phone, hackers can make it work and get information out of that. Taking personal information is a piece of cake for them.”
South Korea is the self-declared world’s most “wired-in” nation, with more broadband connections per capita than any other country. Seoul commuters are rarely spotted without a smart phone and an attack on the state’s mobile systems could, therefore, prove very damaging.
South Korean media reported last week that the origin of the attack was traced to an address within South Korea after initially claiming the source of the attack was in China. However, police reports released today said some addresses behind the attack were in the U.S. and “three European countries”, further adding to the confusion behind last Wednesday’s attack, Yonhap news said.
Although no evidence has been presented that proves North Korean involvement in the attack that temporarily disabled three Seoul-based broadcasters and two major banks, most analysts still suspect Pyongyang to have initiated the most recent spate of ‘cyber terror’, as the South Korean media dubs it. South Korean officials announced that local banks were “stepping up” online security to combat a possible second attack.
“There are something like 3,000 North Korean hackers, but only 20 or 30 have been dispatched to China,” Kim Heung Gwang, who is also president of the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS), told the Daily NK.
“The rest are based in the Munsin district of Pyongyang near the Taedong River and elsewhere, analyzing software, researching mathematical processing methods to penetrate firewalls, cracking passcodes and analyzing the social behavior of users.”
Headline image Copyright Sun Mu