Seoul blames North Korea for hacking a South Korean defense contractor

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Is the North Korea behind the hack of a South Korean defense contractor? The officials announced an investigation into the security incident.

There is a constant tension between South Korea and the North, now the Government of Seoul is accusing Pyongyang for a cyber attack that in April last hit a navy defence contractor, the Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. On the other side, the North Korea denies any involvement and sustains that attribution is political.

The local media agency Yonhap reported that the government of Seoul suspects the involvement of the North Korean cyber army.

“After identifying signs that Hanjin Heavy Industries may have been hacked on April 20, the Defense Security Command is currently leading a security investigation into whether any military secrets were leaked and whether North Korea was involved,” states the Yonhap citing unnamed officials.

The Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co provides naval vessels and amphibious assault vehicles (e.g. ROKS Dokdo) to the South Korea.

North Korea vs south

Anyway, the Officials confirmed that there is no concrete evidence proving the involvement of NK hackers.

“North Korea could have been involved, but we are not absolutely sure at this stage,” confirmed the official.

Salted Hash reported that his sources close to active IR investigations hypothesized the involvement of a notorious APT, the Lazarus Group. The Lazarus Group is believed to be behind the Sony Pictures hack and multiple security breaches suffered companies in South Korea.

South Korean companies in the defence industry are privileged targets for hackers, in November unknown hackers hit the contractor LIG Nex1 and the Agency for Defense Development. Government investigators suspect that the attackers were interested in the project of the AESA radar.

In September 2013, experts at Kaspersky discovered the espionage activity conducted by another group of hackers dubbed Icefog, an APT specialized in “hit and run” attacks against very specific targets, including several industrial and high-tech organizations in South Korea and Japan.

North Korea holds an impressive army of cyber warriors, with over 6,000 sophisticated professionals. The cyber army is trained and operates in an isolated department called Bureau 121.

“When it comes to cyber-attacks, few groups are as notorious as North Korea’s Bureau 121, which has operated since the late nineties. Most security researchers agree that the group operates out of China. Specifically, in the basement of a restaurant, rated highly on TripAdvisor for its tremendous Korean food.” reported the BBC.

North Korea has the highest percentage of military personnel in relation to population, it has approximately 40 enlisted soldiers per 1000 people with a considerable impact on the budget of the country.