Saturday, June 11, 2011

North Korean defectors suggest 30,000 NK electronic warfare specialists

The Korea Herald reports the North Korean military has 30,000 electronic warfare specialists with capabilities rivaling those of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, citing defectors and other sources.

The U.S. broadcaster’s report titled “North Korea’s cyber army gets increasingly sophisticated,” came after a series of cyber attacks on key government and corporate websites in South Korea, which Seoul officials believe were masterminded by the communist state.

“Defectors say that the regime now culls the brightest students from the nation’s universities and funnels them into special secret schools that concentrate on hacking and developing cyber warfare programs targeted at South Korea,”
the report said.

Pointing out that among the most frequent visitors to U.S. military web sites are computers traced to North Korea, it said the North could pose a serious threat to U.S. military networks.

“In fact, South Korea’s intelligence agencies now believe that North Korea has the capability to paralyze the U.S. Pacific Command and cause extensive damage to defense networks inside the United States,” the report said.

Citing one defector, who was an officer in the North Korean electronic warfare command, the report said, “The heart of the effort is centered at Automation University, where 100 to 110 hackers a year are trained in advanced electronic espionage every year.”

Kim Heung-kwang, who defected to the South in 2004 after working as a professor at a computer technology university in the North for 20 years, said that the North was focusing on cyber and electronic warfare capabilities as it can cause massive damage to its enemy at low cost. “Cyber warfare capabilities are asymmetrical ones that can shake up the centerpiece of the South Korean society. The cost of establishing and running cyber warfare facilities is very low while its impact is great,” he told The Korea Herald.

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