N.Korea's Powerful Hacker Army

North Korean cyber warriors are believed to have declared war on the South in the late 1990s. The regime is believed to employ 500-1,000 hackers who attack from third countries including China.

A report by military authorities here in 2006 estimated that North Korea's military hacking unit could paralyze U.S. Pacific Command and cause damage to the network on the U.S. mainland. The main briefs of these hackers are to steal secret documents or disseminate viruses by penetrating the computer networks of military agencies.

Last year, a hacking program was e-mailed to a South Korean Army colonel of a field command, which security authorities assume was done by North Korean military hackers.

A National Assembly report cites Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center, as saying North Korean hackers attempted to break into the South Korean and the U.S. defense departments in 2006.

The regime apparently recruits talented graduates mainly from Pyongyang Automation University, also known as Mirim University, Kim Chaek University of Technology, or Pyongyang University of Computer Technology.

Pyongyang Automation University, which belongs to the General Staff of the People's Army, has about 700 students and 500-600 faculty and staff. Some 100 professionals graduate from it every year. The North Korean Army also maintains a bureau under the General Staff to manage hackers and develop software.

A military source said, "The U.S. Defense Department's tracing of countries where users visited U.S. military websites for several years revealed that North Korea made the most connections to them. There is speculation that North Korea is second only to the CIA in terms of hacking capabilities."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 10, 2009 08:51 KST