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N. Korea denies carrying out cyberattacks against S. Korean officials

All Headlines 11:57 March 13, 2016

SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Sunday denied that it carried out cyberattacks against South Korean officials, claiming such accusations were no more than slander campaigns conducted by the Seoul government.

In an article carried by the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, Pyongyang said that claims made by the South were all lies aimed at fueling inter-Korean confrontation.

It then said that the DPRK will not stand by while the South makes false claims for its own political purposes. The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

Pyongyang views the latest allegations as a tool being used by Seoul to push forward stiffer antiterrorism measures.

It said such actions are fueling resentment in the North.

The party mouthpiece then said that if outsiders take any steps to tarnish the DPRK's integrity in any way, such actions will be mercilessly crushed.

The paper then blasted South Korean President Park Geun-hye for instigating indiscriminate provocations, believing she has the backing of the United States, and warned that the North Korean military and the people will punish such actions.

The latest attacks come as Seoul's spy agency said Friday that the North successfully hacked the smartphones of scores of senior South Korean officials.

"(The North) sent malicious emails to (smartphones belonging to) 300 diplomats and military officials by impersonating the presidential office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Unification Ministry. Forty of them were successfully hacked," Lee Cheol-woo of the ruling Saenuri Party said after a closed-door parliamentary session of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in Seoul.

The NIS believes that North Korean hackers successfully infected the 40 phones between late February and early March, eventually gaining access to lists of phone calls made along with the contents of text messages and phone conversations.

Rep. Joo Ho-young, who also attended the session, said that the North Korean cyberattacks against Seoul have doubled in the past month, citing the NIS briefing.

Joo said the North had tried to hack into the control tower of South Korea's rail system as well as the computer networks of major financial institutions.

These attempts, however, were interrupted by the NIS, the lawmaker said.

North Korea -- which has thousands of cyberwarfare personnel -- has a track record of waging cyberattacks on South Korea and the United States in recent years, though it has flatly denied any involvement.

North Korea launched a cyberattack against South Korea in July 2009, two months after its second nuclear test. It also hacked South Korean media organizations in March 2013, a month after its third nuclear test.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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