North Korea ‘Training Thousands of Professional Cyber Warriors’

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Mike O'Brien

North Korea is suspected of training teams of "cyber warriors" that investigators believe are better at launching attacks than China.

The Pyongyang regime is accused of recruiting more than 3,000 students to the nation's top science schools to become state-trained professional hackers.

Related: Cyber Defense and Network Security

South Korea was last week hit by its biggest synchronized cyber attack to date with 32,000 computers, along with the servers at three banksand three major South Korean TV networks being taken down by malware.

A full investigation could take weeks but the South is already pointing the figure at the North.

To the outside world, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea appears to be an impoverished communist nation with one of the most restrictive internet policies in the world.

But a vast amount of time and money has been invested in science and technology and the country has its own operating system called Red Star.

According to the Associated Press, the regime has encouraged a passion for all things high-tech among its elite. A Chinese-produced tablet made specifically for the North Korean market is a popular item and there is software available that could match anything in the West.

In March 2012, James Thurman, commander of the U.S. forces in South Korea, warned: "The newest addition to the North Korean asymmetric arsenal is a growing cyberwarfare capability. North Korea employs sophisticated computer hackers trained to launch cyber-infiltration and cyberattacks." He added that South Korea and the U.S. are the main targets.

U.S. intelligence officials believe those warnings are now a stark reality. North Korean has yet to respond to the allegations it is training hackers and Pyongyang has so far remained silent on the subject of last week’s attack in the South.

Officials in Seoul have accused their neighbor of five major attacks since 2009, including a hacking incident that halted production at a South Korean newspaper which was subsequently traced to a government telecommunications center in the North.

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