September 24, 2023

Book review: North Korea’s cyber transformation for the 21st century

‘The Lazarus Heist’ exposes evolution of Pyongyang’s cyberwarfare and how it has resorted to digital crime to survive

There is always the danger of reproducing orientalist views when discussing a country like North Korea. We like to think there’s something special going on there, that a cloud of mystique surrounds an enigmatic Confucian state with secrets and mysteries unknown to the western world. 

Such an approach often fails to acknowledge the actual reality of the situation. We then ignore just how similar certain experiences in Pyongyang can be to ours. Geoff White’s “The Lazarus Heist” — the book version of the BBC podcast of the same name — avoids such pitfalls and brings North Korea kicking and screaming into the 21st century, replacing the opaque Cholima-laden symbols of propaganda with digital crimes, information security problems and cyberwarfare.