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Australia Vulnerable to Korean Hacking Army 329

Posted by samzenpus
from the hacking-matilda dept.
Nan writes "An army of more than 500 hackers hired by the North Korean military could find Australian businesses a "softer target" than their U.S. or European-based counterparts, according to security experts. The hacking army's mission is to break into South Korean, Japanese and American corporate networks to gather intelligence and steal trade secrets, according to reports."
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Australia Vulnerable to Korean Hacking Army

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  • by leonmergen (807379) * <{lmergen} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:46AM (#10521951) Homepage
    ... Western countries unite in a global blocking campaign, virtually disconnecting North Korea from the internet, after a number of government-funded hacking threats from North Korea.
  • This is nuts. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liquidpele (663430) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:48AM (#10521963) Journal
    Why not just cut them off from the internet?
    It's not like anyone but the govt there is using it anyways.
    They can network their country all they like, but why let them play on ours if they can't play nice?
    • Re:This is nuts. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by metlin (258108) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:53AM (#10521990) Journal
      Because we are not them.

      And it would be a scary precedent. If it's N Korea today, why couldn't it be China tomorrow?

      And you would be harming whatever little percentage of people who use the Internet in N Korea, in the process. Besides, the Internet would be a source of access to the people of that country.

      We all know how well sanctions work, right? It wouldn't make a difference. They're just trying to rake up a noise to garner attention.

      Better that they say they'd hack into networks rather than say they'd launch a nuclear offensive.
      • Re:This is nuts. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by liquidpele (663430) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:12AM (#10522058) Journal
        precedent? why not?
        If a country tried to take an army into yours, you stop them don't you?
        Well, if the artical is true, it's essentially a cyber-army, so why even give them the chance? For more analogy: You exclude violent people from society in jail don't you? It's common place to separate those who can't play nice from those who are willing.
      • Hmmm...I thought that historically sanctions (the effective strong arm of diplomacy) were in general considered quite effective. They were certainly effective when just the threat of sanctions were used against the Bush steel policies.
    • Re:This is nuts. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by torpor (458) <ibisum@gmail. c o m> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:00AM (#10522016) Homepage Journal
      yeah, coz you know, with that American Might you can just block the entire country of north korea from having internet access 'at the flick of a switch'.

      dufus. the internet is everywhere. you can't block all the connections that a 500-man organized team of hackers can set up for themselves .. whatever country they're in, or from.
      • Re:This is nuts. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by liquidpele (663430)
        It does not take much "American Might" to cut a few cables. And last time I checked, we have the influence to get that done.
        As for "the internet is everywhere", that's like saying "electricity is everywhere", and that's certainly not the case in most of North Korea.
        Also, I was assuming the hackers are actually in NK.
        • Re:This is nuts. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by torpor (458) <ibisum@gmail. c o m> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:26AM (#10522109) Homepage Journal
          "cut a few cables" .. uh huh.

          look, all it takes is *ONE* connection to the internet, in safe harbour somewhere, and they're back on again.

          just forget it. there's no way to 'cut them all off' from the 'net. its a preposterous idea.

          the only solution is diplomacy. these people clearly think that their position is the right one; well, why is that? learn the answer to that question, and use diplomacy ...
          • With North Korea? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by HBI (604924) <kparadine@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:48AM (#10522374) Homepage Journal
            Learn history or be doomed to repeat it. This Stalinist state has been immune to diplomacy for the past 60 years. Nothing works. They have three world powers to play off against each other, and China has been shielding them to some extent since 1951.
          • Sigh but if we try to understand the other people maybe we'll figure out they are right... Didn't you learn anything from the media coverage of 9/11 not only does the American populance live in blissful ignorance much of the media does and the government likes it that way.
          • the only solution is diplomacy. these people clearly think that their position is the right one; well, why is that? learn the answer to that question, and use diplomacy ...

            I think it is a bit more difficult than that. North Korea recently threatened to turn Japan into a " nuclear sea of fire [japantoday.com]" should the US attack NK with nukes.

            Rhetoric like that shows just how insane this regime is, and how difficult diplomacy will be. If the DPRK ("Democratic Peoples" Republic of North Korea) had their way, they woul
    • Re:This is nuts. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mikrorechner (621077)
      Why not just cut them off from the internet?
      Because you would either have to invade or cut off China to do that (source [kotra.or.kr]).
    • Re:This is nuts. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by invid (163714) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:45AM (#10522362) Homepage
      The Internet is more dangerous to them than it is to us. Plus, it's healthy for a system to get attacked now and then.
    • Because they are using China proxies. To cut China from the internet just is not realistic. It's the biggest potential market for the rest of the world. And to force China to cut North Korea is not realistic either.
  • by metlin (258108) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:49AM (#10521968) Journal
    From the article -

    "This is probably more boasting than a real threat. In the past we have seen similar claims from the Taiwanese and the East Timorese," said Hyppönen.

    Heh. Probably yet another of those notice us! notice us! type publicity stunt by N Korea.

    And even if they do hack into an odd website or two, people will start to take notice and will act on it. It's far easier to secure your networks than launch an offensive on N Korea.

    These guys just need to be ignored while they jump around their cages trying to garner attention.
  • Cool (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zxv (815649) <zxv AT fixme DOT se> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:49AM (#10521969) Homepage
    Australian-based firms hold the same intellectual property as their U.S. and EU-based offices, they are not as paranoid about security.
    Sources?

    • Bloke down the pub called Bruce told me.

      But lets face it, this is baloney. This would mean the Oz company had the same data as the UK which has the same as the US.

      Now most companies I know have the data stored in central systems with the HQ and local only information at the leaves. If you hack the Oz network you get Oz data, but if you can "be" the Oz CEO you'd have access to the roll-up data and information that he can get, which would be cross border.... but then the security that supports that would
  • The US established here in Europe a gigantic spy network, called Echelon. As we now know they also use this network for stealing trade secrets.

    So, the situation here is not that different here unless no one seems to bother about this...
      • heh. I was told an old story about a Russian satalite that crashed in the US. They examined it, and it had what was basically a (very) old intel cpu in it, but reverse engineered with a couple bug fixes in it, but at the time the satalite was made it was the newest stuff. Not sure if the story is myth or true, but I found it interesting....
        • "heh. I was told an old story about a Russian satalite that crashed in the US. They examined it, and it had what was basically a (very) old intel cpu in it, but reverse engineered with a couple bug fixes in it, but at the time the satalite was made it was the newest stuff. Not sure if the story is myth or true, but I found it interesting...."

          Erm... can a satelite survive the heat on reentry to begin with?
    • We have your IP number. Can you see the black van across the street?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:50AM (#10521974)
    Last I checked you needed electricity to run a computer, and last satellite photo I saw, the North Koreans didn't have any of that.

    I'm betting Aussie networks are safe from their North Korean TCP/Abacus layer attacks.
  • 500 hackers? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by koi88 (640490) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:52AM (#10521983)
    Note to Kim Jong-Il:
    It's not how many hackers you have but how good they are. One really skilled hakcker can do a lot of damage if he manages to attack at the right point.
    • Stupid American!
      We have storen yor trade secrets aready!
      We now have factories that are assembring *your* most powerfu weapon ever. Frickin sharks with frickin rasers on their heads! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!
      Yours trury,
      Kim Jong-Il

      With my sincerest apologies to Dr. Evil, South Park, and all the people in North Korea (where millions are suffering from starvation...)
    • But if that one hacker teaches the other 499? They can't be as good, but they can still learn.
  • by gilesjuk (604902) <[ku.oc.nez] [ta] [senoj.selig]> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @04:57AM (#10522000)
    Why have such secrets and sensitive information Internet accessible? it's their own fault if their security methods are weak and information can be accessed by hackers.
    • Amen to that, any company (or individual, or government department) really serious about security practices physical seperation (when possible) with a strictly controlled, non-constant, individual data transfer across the physical gap (ie. no network interconnection, even for a limited amount of time) in addition to using all "ordinary" security measures. Not too many companies so far but I've seen some do it.

      However most governmental systems seem to not do this well enough or be able to... North Korea (o
      • People often say you should be able to leave wear very flashy jewellery, wave around your money and leave your house unlocked. Not have to be vigilant, lock and alarm your house etc..

        Likewise, some would say lets get rid of the security hackers, but this isn't going to happen any sooner than getting rid of thieves.

        Cyber-crime is much easier to get away with than physical crime (ie. going out and robbing/beating someone). Therefore you have to make sure that if you have important information that can be ac
        • Well communism is all about optimism. It just depends on how nice they are, if the hackers are causing harm then yea they will take them down I imagine.

          If they however have fallen for communism and just want money you will need to make it in their best interest same as in the states, tell them you will ask their government to look into it. No company wants the government on their neck.
      • Dude the Korean government is running this, they don't want to destroy us.

        They just want access to information they can't get through trade. They will simply steal our technical documentation which isn't what we protect mostly our corperations try and hide their financial side (desperatly in fact) because it will give their competitors a chance to imitate or complain about their shoddy business practices.
  • Hype? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why do I continually get service probes and scans from Korea and Taiwan?
    • Re:Hype? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jesuscash (668623)
      It's typically worms that are scanning you. The reason they originate from places like Korea (most the scans I've seen are actually SOUTH Korea, not North.) and Taiwan is that they don't have the network or system security posture most in the west do. I can tell Austrailia's security isn't as strong as ours as I see some of the same worm looking scans coming from systems there.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    He must have come up with that idea while playing C&C:Generals. Since he's also rumored to be a great fan of pr0n he probably won't share his female superhackers with us. : /
  • by poo203 (305282) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:00AM (#10522012)
    Crikey! Do you blokes reckon that those little North Koreeun fellas would be able to hack into my beer recipes?
  • by Goonie (8651) * <robert@merkel.benambra@org> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:00AM (#10522015) Homepage
    I would be very surprised if Australian companies were any more or less vulnerable to hackers than any companies in any other modern Western country.

    And the DPRK doesn't really want to piss us off - we are in a fairly unique position, as a close American ally that has diplomatic relations with the North Koreans. They may be tyrannical thugs, but they're not stupid either, and that diplomatic channel is surely worth more to them than hacking a few corporate websites.

    As for Australia's defence and intelligence agencies, well, we're a branch office for America, and they let us in on a lot (but not all, obviously) of their stuff. That wouldn't happen unless the US agencies were comfortable that the only people that can hack in are, well, themselves...

  • by Cronopios (313338) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:00AM (#10522018) Homepage Journal
    I mean, it's just what the U.S. has been doing for years [thenewamerican.com], wiretapping business and private conversations all over the world.

    Quote:
    According to a report commissioned by the European Union, entitled Development of Surveillance Technology and the Risk of Abuse of Economic Information, the system has, since the dissolution of the Soviet Empire, been partially dedicated to industrial espionage.

    According to the New York Times, the report claims that information gleaned through Echelon helped U.S. aerospace firm Boeing win a lucrative Saudi Arabian contract away from a European competitor, and that Echelon was used to help the American company Raytheon "win a bid for a $1.3 billion surveillance system for the Amazon forest away from Thomson-CSF, a French company."

    • I say it's time to invade. I send my best forces in: Black jewish gay female underaged handicapped soldiers. They may no be very good on fighting, but political incorrectness of stopping them would immobilize the entire US army.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:02AM (#10522027)

    1. Create security firm in your neighborhood.
    2. Write paranoid article in local journal.
    3. Profit! ...err... it should work, shouldn't it?
  • ... surely we can just cut their net cables?
    No net access, low hacking risk.
  • by Raseri (812266) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:06AM (#10522042)
    The most out-of-shape military force on Earth. Their base of operations is their parents' basements. Their rations consist entirely of pizza and Bawls. Their uniform is jeans and a shirt with either the word "w00t!" (for grunts) or the phrase "i read your e-mail" (for officers). Their recruitment literature looks like this:

    HungLo2099: d000dz!!!!11!1!! u could 500000 pwn amerkians!!!1!!!!!
    Z3r0k3wl: kewl!!1! wehre do w3 sign up?
    HungLo69: OMG america iz teh suck!!1!!1 OMGWTFLOLOLOLOL!!!!!1!!1!111!!11!oneone!1
    HungLo2099: d00dz!! u also get free pizza and a t-shirt!!!!1!!!11!
    Z3r0k3wl: w00t!
    HungLo69: pwnage11!11!

    Trust me, I've seen it.
    • by koi88 (640490)
      Their base of operations is their parents' basements. Their rations consist entirely of pizza and Bawls.
      Whoa. Don't insult your fellow Slashdotters. It's perfectly normal for a 30-year-old to live in his parents' basement. And pizza makes a fine meal -- how else could I have grown to be so, uhm, big and strong?
  • As a closet Australian, I'd just to like to reassure everyone out there that there's nothing worth stealing in Australia anyway - not even information ... so it's all moot.

    Move along .... nothing to see here.
    • I dunno, from what I hear, our coffee and beer is much better than in the US. Never been there though, so it's hard to say.

      And other than that, there's plenty of stuff you'd all want to steal. Why, yesterday, I just upgraded my video card to a Geforce 4! We're so far ahead of you USAnians, you only have the FX series cards ;)
    • Why not make up some information for them to steal.

      Us UKians have loads. Tony could lend you his 'Dodgy Dossier', full of made up stuff about Iraq. You could copy Shell's accounts, the Tory Party manifesto, NHS performance figures, my tax return, Peter Mandlesons mortgage application, the Hutton Report, various court transcripts (The Birmingham 6 will do), howto fireprrof a submarine, etc.

      You could even try passing them stuff that would embarrass them, like photos of Kim Jong with a sheep.
  • by linsys (793123) <linsys.intrusionsec@com> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:24AM (#10522097) Homepage
    ...... should have kept it an island for criminals I tell ya....
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:26AM (#10522108)
    That's not a root kit.

    Here. Now this is a root kit, mate.

  • From the article

    Countries like China and North Korea are not exactly poster children for copyright enforcement. North Korea's economic position is not favorable and that makes it more dangerous. They want the ability to manufacture goods better and cheaper," the security expert said.

    I don't see how industrial espionage from the mechanized world is going to help a 4th world nation. Though this does show that when you don't have a culture of innovation you do have one of immitation.

    • I learned this [wikipedia.org] a couple days ago. The "First World" is made of Capitalist/Western countries, the "Second World" is made of Communist/Eastern countries, and "Third World" countries are those that don't fit into either catagory. So North Korea is really a Second World country, not 4th.
      • I think he probably realized that, or possibly would have called them 3rd world at the very least. I think the gp was refering to the appauling conditions of famine and backwardness. So there fore they got the 4th world... meaning the 3rd world feels sorry for them(poorest of the poorest of the poorest). But then again I havnt slept yet and its 7am so I could just be delirious.
  • by Exter-C (310390) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:28AM (#10522117) Homepage
    Many people like to think that australia and new zealand are backwards counties down in the middloe of nowhere. In reality many of Australian businesses adopt technology and security standards much faster than thier US counterparts.

    Its funny that many of the best security professionals throughout the 80s where based from Australia. This trend has continued and Australian businesses are often well prepared and secured. This is obviously a fairly big generalisation with companies like Optus having major breakings etc most of the major corporates in australia have a very good security history.

    • Because MS products are the dominant force.

      And if MS has a majority marketshare in the enterprise, you'd better be DAMNED good at security.

      Or maybe the article is really saying "Oz more at risk due to MS security issues over Apache and Unix using EU/US"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As a security professional in Australia, we're not behind at all. We patch our web servers, mail servers and use modern firewall appliances.

      From the 80s we've been teaching the rest of the world how to hack. For a history lesson check Suelette Dreyfus's book Underground.

      Australia invented the fax machine, fibre optic cabling and the black box flight recorder!
  • coz we keep 'em both locked up in a safe....
  • by mrjb (547783) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @05:51AM (#10522197)
    "The hacking army's mission is to break into South Korean, Japanese and American corporate networks to gather intelligence and steal trade secrets, according to reports."

    So, if I understand correctly, Aussie businesses may be a softer target, but they aren't targeted.
  • by rob101 (809157) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:07AM (#10522238)
    I think that this report was perhaps written from an angle that assumes we ride kangaroos to school, after all we have to. They are the only thing that gets us out of range of those pesky crocs! IMHO - As a PhD comp-sci student 'down-under' we are FAR from being the bottom of the pile in the tech industry and further from being a soft electronic target. I'll worry about the north korea electonic threat when they can feed their own population!! -- Throw another shrimp on the barby luv!
  • by Izago909 (637084) * <`tauisgod' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:08AM (#10522241)
    Brought to you by the same people that guaranteed WMDs in Iraq and Osama captured within a year, and a link betwen them.
  • by salvorHardin (737162) <adwulf@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:13AM (#10522255) Journal

    Wow, that Korean hacker training program must be tough... there were 600 of them [slashdot.org] a week ago.

  • If the North Koreans hadn't thought of this before, they certainly have now. :)
  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:22AM (#10522277)
    ...and it's getting riper. Sounds more like someone's trying to sell anti-hacker insurance. Personally, I'd be a lot more concerned about botnets than some alleged "security expert" warning about an "army of hackers" in some place he knows I can't check.

    There. Thanks for letting me get that out.
  • I (heart) /. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:30AM (#10522309) Journal
    3 posts and 2 are from the "I HATE AMERICA" crowd and have already been rated 5-interesting.

    Don't you people ever sleep?

    Every country practices espionage. EVERY country. The US, with its technical resources, has been very successful in the past in elint. The Soviets were particularly successful with their humint efforts.

    I don't think anyone is saying the North Koreans don't have a 'right' to form their 'hackforce' (it's only leftists and liberals that talk about 'rights' in geopolitics anyway); I think the point is that their calling attention to it is the sort of attention-whoring that suggests that it's less a real exercise than cage-rattling.
    • Every country practices espionage. EVERY country. The US, with its technical resources, has been very successful in the past in elint. The Soviets were particularly successful with their humint efforts. I don't think anyone is saying the North Koreans don't have a 'right' to form their 'hackforce' (it's only leftists and liberals that talk about 'rights' in geopolitics anyway); I think the point is that their calling attention to it is the sort of attention-whoring that suggests that it's less a real exerc
  • DEAR SIR,

    CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS PROPOSAL

    HAVING CONSULTED WITH MY COLLEAGUES AND BASED ON THE INFORMATION GATHERED FROM THE North Korean CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, I HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO REQUEST FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE TO TRANSFER THE SUM OF $47,500,000.00 (FORTY SEVEN MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS) INTO YOUR ACCOUNTS.

  • "All your Interne- er... Wallabies are belong to us"
  • More Power To them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Deliveranc3 (629997) <deliverance@le[ ]4.org ['vel' in gap]> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @07:38AM (#10522687) Journal
    They aren't competing in those markets so there is no real reason to deny them access to the info!

    Sigh technically superior communists who would have thunk it. :)
  • by clambake (37702) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @08:54AM (#10523467) Homepage
    The hacking army's mission is to break into South Korean, Japanese and American corporate networks to gather intelligence and steal trade secrets, according to reports.

    Gather intelligence of non-existant plans for North Korean campaigns? And gather trade secrets to keep them competitive in what? Subsistance farming? What do they even produce? You could ship trade secrets by the boat load and it wouldn't do them a bit of good.

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