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N. Korea using hackers to steal, fund weapons program: U.S. commander

All News 04:45 August 26, 2020

WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- Cash-strapped North Korea is employing its hackers to break into and steal from international financial networks to fund its weapons development programs, the U.S. military's top cyber official said.

In a contributed article published Tuesday by U.S. magazine Foreign Affairs, Gen. Paul Nakasone, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command, said Pyongyang is using hacking as a way of defying various sanctions imposed on the communist state.

The image, captured from the website of U.S. magazine Foreign Affairs, shows Gen. Paul Nakasone, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency. (Yonhap)

"North Korea flouts sanctions by hacking international financial networks and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate revenue that funds its weapons development activities," said the article, co-authored by Michael Sulmeyer, a senior adviser to the commander of U.S. Cyber Command.

In a report published last week, the U.S. Army suspected the North to maintain as many as 6,000 hackers.

South Korea has frequently been a target of North Korea's cyber attacks, which largely sought to cause confusion and steal sensitive information.

But many experts believe the North's cyber attacks have been more focused on financial gains at least since 2016.

The impoverished North continues to face a wide range of U.N. and other international sanctions designed to punish it for its nuclear tests and halt its nuclear and other weapons development programs.

Nakasone said the U.S. will continue to enhance its capabilities and those of its "partners" to prevent any cyber attacks before they take place.

"Inaction poses its own risks: that Chinese espionage, Russian intimidation, Iranian coercion, North Korean burglary, and terrorist propaganda will continue unabated," said the article.

"So the question is how, not whether, to act," it added.


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