S. Korean paper says North has increased its cyberspying
SEOUL — North Korea has been hacking into South Korean government computer networks with greater frequency to gather information on next week’s Group of 20 summit in Seoul, a South Korean newspaper reported yesterday.
North Korea has a track record of provocations when world attention is focused on the rival South, and Seoul is bracing for any possible North Korean moves to sabotage the meeting of world leaders.
North Korean hackers based in China collected unspecified minor information about the summit from South Korean government networks, the mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified official at the presidential Blue House.
Seoul’s main spy agency said it could not confirm the report.
It is widely believed that North Korea runs a cyberwarfare unit aimed at hacking into South Korean and US networks to collect confidential information and disrupt service. Last week, South Korea’s spy chief told lawmakers that North Korea has about 1,000 hackers.
The report came three days after South Korea strengthened cybersecurity measures for main government and civilian websites to cope with possible cyberattacks.
Government and private specialists are trying to detect signs of attacks such as one last year that disabled key websites in the United States and South Korea by launching a massive number of access attempts. Seoul officials have said they believed that cyberattack was conducted by North Korea, but cybersecurity specialists say US officials have largely ruled that out.
President Lee Myung Bak of South Korea said Wednesday he does not believe Pyongyang would strike South Korea but Seoul is ready for anything.
In 1987, a year before the Seoul Olympics, North Korean agents planted a bomb on a South Korean plane, killing all 115 people on board. In 2002, when South Korea jointly hosted soccer’s World Cup along with Japan, a North Korean naval boat sank a South Korean patrol vessel near the sea border.
Last week, soldiers from each side briefly exchanged gunfire along their heavily armed border. There was more gunfire Wednesday near their sea border.