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U.S. intelligence chiefs pick N. Korea as major cyber threat

All News 01:24 January 06, 2017

By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- Top U.S. intelligence officials on Thursday picked North Korea as one of four major cyber threats to the U.S., along with Russia, China and Iran, saying the communist nation is capable of launching "disruptive or destructive cyber attacks."

Director of National Intelligence James Claper, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre and U.S. Cyber Command chief Adm. Michael Rogers made the assessment in a joint statement submitted for a Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing.

"Pyongyang remains capable of launching disruptive or destructive cyber attacks to support its political objectives, as demonstrated by its destructive attack against Sony Pictures," the statement said, referring to the massive hacking attack on the movie distributor in late 2014.

"South Korean officials have also concluded that North Korea was probably responsible for the 2014 compromise, exfiltration, and disclosure of data from a South Korean nuclear plant, and for numerous denial of service and data deletion attacks," it said.

The North's cyber capabilities have been a greater focus of U.S. attention since a massive hacking attack on Sony Pictures, which Pyongyang is believed to have carried out in retaliation for Sony's release of a comedy film ridiculing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

U.S. intelligence chiefs pick N. Korea as major cyber threat - 1

The U.S. intelligence chiefs picked Russia as the No. 1 cyber threat, calling the country a "full-scope cyber actor that poses a major threat to U.S. government, military, diplomatic, commercial and critical infrastructure and key resource networks because of its highly advanced offensive cyber program and sophisticated tactics, techniques, and procedures."

China continues to conduct cyber espionage against the U.S. government, companies and allies, and Iran continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, the officials said.

Thursday's hearing came amid debates about Russia's role in cyberattacks accused of interfering with the U.S. presidential election, with President-elect Donald Trump raising questions about the intelligence assessment that Moscow was behind the attacks.


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