N.Korea 'Hacks into S.Korea-U.S. Defense Plans'

Suspected North Korean hackers may have gained access to a war plan devised by South Korea and the U.S. in preparation for an emergency, including details of specific operational scenarios, intelligence agencies believe.

According to the January issue of the Monthly Chosun published Friday, the National Intelligence Service and the Defense Security Command in mid-November discovered that an officer with the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command had used an unsecured USB memory stick and in that process some contents of the plan, dubbed OPLAN 5027, contained in his PC was accessed by a hacker with a Chinese IP address.

The DSC carried out sweeping security checks after the Monthly Chosun reported in November that the military Internet network had been breached by a North Korean hacking unit, and that in the process the agency confirmed that OPLAN 5027 had been hacked.

The monthly in November reported that North Korean hackers stole information from the Chemical Accidents Response Information System built by the National Institute of Environmental Research under the Ministry of Environment after infiltrating the Third Army headquarters' computer network and using a password to access CARIS's Center for Chemical Safety Management.

OPLAN 5027 is the CFC plan formulated in preparation for a preemptive strike or provocation by North Korea. Commander of the U.S. Forces Korea Gen. Walter Sharp has recently said a new joint draft operational plan has been worked out to replace OPLAN 5027 ahead of the transfer of full operational control of Korean troops to Seoul. But one retired general pointed out that the new joint operational plan will be based on OPLAN 5027. "Our conceptual framework has been laid bare if it's true that OPLAN 5027 was leaked," he said.

Based on No. 110 Research Center under the North Korean Army General Staff's Reconnaissance Bureau, the North Korean hacking unit has an impressive staff, range of operations, technologies, and overseas branches. There is speculation that 500-600 hackers are working in North Korea, including the Ministry of State Security.

Kim Heung-kwang, a former professor at Pyongyang Computer Technology University, said, "We have information that the North Korean hacking unit will soon attack the computer network in South Korea, which could throw databases of financial institutions, the Military Manpower Administration and hospitals and other institutions into chaos."

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 18, 2009 09:07 KST