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(LEAD) N. Korea behind latest online mall hacking: police

All Headlines 16:45 July 28, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean police said Thursday that North Korea was behind the latest hacking of a leading online shopping mall, which led to the leak of personal information of some 10 million customers.

The remark came after police conducted a detailed probe into the server of Interpark Corp., after an unidentified entity broke into it and stole customer-related information in May.

Police said the Internet Protocol addresses used by the hackers were identical to those used by North Korean hackers in previous cases. The malicious codes used were also similar to past examples of North Korean foul play, it added.

Experts said North Korea's hacking attempts apparently followed the latest economic sanctions on the communist's regime, which induced it to find other ways to raise foreign currency.

After the hackers obtained the data from Interpark in May, they also sent e-mails to the company's executives, asking for 3 billion won (US$2.66 million) in bitcoins, a virtual currency exchangeable online.

One of the Korean-language e-mails, included vocabulary used only in the North, a tell-tale sign indicating that Pyongyang was behind the cyber attacks.

The investigation also showed the hacker impersonated a brother of one of Interpark's staff, and sent e-mails with malicious codes to penetrate the company's network.

"It marks the first time that North Korea used hacking to steal South Korean assets and try to raise funds," a police official said, adding the government will continue to track down and unearth more details of the attack.

The criminal probe also showed that the distinct way that the attacks occurred pointed to certain people perpetrating the crime, the police said. They added that the evidence was conclusive and authorities can say with confidence that Pyongyang is responsible for the the latest hacks.

colin@yna.co.kr
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