Thursday, June 02, 2011

North Korean defector claims North grooming hackers

JoongAng Ilbo reports North Korea is bulking up the ranks of its cyberwarriors, and is even sending them overseas to study the dark art of Internet hacking, according to a representative from a group of North Korean defectors.

Kim Heung-kwang of the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a group known for reliable information, said yesterday that North Korea has increased its number of cyber terrorists to 3,000, up from around 500 in the past.

Kim said those who show talent in computer skills are detected at a young age and sent to a special middle school in Pyongyang to be groomed in the art of cyber attacks.

“These young, gifted students are placed in the best environment possible and once they graduate from school with the highest scores, their families are brought to Pyongyang to live with them,” Kim said.

The students are then sent to Kim Il Sung University or the Kim Chaek University of Technology to further their computer studies. Once in that training, the future hackers are sent to study abroad, Kim said, and by the time they return, the hackers are in their 20s.

Kim said North Korea realized that building the ranks of cyber warriors “costs less money than to train Army or Air Force soldiers.”

North Korea has been blamed for several recent South Korean cyber security breaches, including the hacking Nonghyup Bank servers.  The South Korean military believes that North Korea was behind spam e-mails sent to high-ranking South Korean military officials that unleashed a virus into the recipient’s computer and extracted personal data and information.

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