N.Korea Runs 200 Hacker Groups Overseas

  • By Kim Myong-song

    January 30, 2019 12:25

    About 200 North Korean hacker groups are working overseas to earn hard currency and gather information by selling malware built by a global app developer, a source said Tuesday.

    Their main customers are dealers in the West, including the U.S. and Canada. "North Korean hacker groups in China, Russia and Southeast Asia are taking orders from dealers in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, and Sweden through a site (www.freelancer.com) to build software and plant malware in it," a source said Tuesday. "This is called 'Operation Trojan Horse.'"

    They are believed to hack into foreign companies' systems using the malware to collect information and steal money. "There are currently about 200 North Korean hacker groups overseas, each of which is sending US$400,000 to $1 million to Pyongyang annually," the source said.

    Each group consists of about five to 10 hackers working behind front companies camouflaged as trading firms set up by locals in the countries where they operate.

    The source said the hackers are employed by the North's General Reconnaissance Bureau, the top spy agency, and at first specialized in cyber warfare like distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. But more recently they have focused on earning hard currency by hacking as the regime runs out of cash amid international sanctions.

    Ryu Dong-ryeol of the Korea Institute of Liberal Democracy said they earn up to 1 trillion won a year and are also active in South Korea.

    Voice of America said on Tuesday said the U.S. Congress is seeking various ways to guard against cyber attacks from North Korea.

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