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Cyber capabilities of North Korea

September 4, 2014

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Helwett Packard has published a comprehensive compendium of the known knowledge about North Korean cyberspace. HP notes the sharp division between true internet access available only to few individuals and access to nation-wide intranet available for North Korean citizens that contains only vetted and censored information.

HP also describes activities of Korean military entities known as Unit 121, Unit 91 and Lab 110 aimed at targeted attacks at U.S. and South Korean targets. Lab 110 was responsible for the development of the most sophisticated North Korean malware DarkSeoul. It was used in March 2013 to perform a large scale attack at South Korean media and financial institutions. There are also parts of the ruling Workers’ party involved at cyber – psychological propaganda operations in South Korea and Japan. Several hacking teams also operate on behalf of the North Korean government. HP details the operations and composition of WhoIs Team, IsOne and Kimsukyang.

Cyber warfare is very suitable for the North Korean doctrine of asymmetric war. North Korea uses wide variety of cyber tools to attack its opponents, gather intelligence, propaganda purposes and for financial gain. North Korea also focuses on electronic warfare including use of GPS jamming and EMP weapons. The technologically highly developed society in South Korea could be seriously harmed in case such weapons were used in a large scale. Despite its lack in network infrastructure, North Korea possesses a developed system of high education of cyber warfare experts. All those capabilities are periodically tested on North Korean primary enemies as South Korea, USA and Japan.

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