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North Korean Hackers Rival CIA? 521

Posted by Zonk
from the wanted-leet-haxxor dept.
Bitchslap_69 writes "According to a report in the South Korean paper Cho Sun Ilbo, North Korea 'employs 500-600 hackers who are tasked with hacking into computer networks and disabling enemy command and communication systems.' The person making this claim is Dr. Byeon Jae-jeong of the South Korean Defense Ministry's Agency for Defense Development (ADD). He claims the DPRK hackers to be 'equal to that of the CIA,' whatever that might mean."
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North Korean Hackers Rival CIA?

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  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:12AM (#12721443) Journal
    But what about the NSA?
  • ADD? (Score:5, Funny)

    by roach2002 (77772) <murcnh102&sneakemail,com> on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:13AM (#12721445) Homepage
    An acronym of ADD could lead to great jokes about... ... hey wanna go ride bikes?
    • Re:ADD? (Score:5, Funny)

      by roach2002 (77772) <murcnh102&sneakemail,com> on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:15AM (#12721452) Homepage
      There are 2 types of people on earth, those with ADD
  • by appleLaserWriter (91994) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:14AM (#12721448)
    1. how does north korea get any bandwidth? Do they cross connect with china?
    2. what good do mad hacking skills do you when you've just been assigned farm duty?
    3. How can you hack with out access to doritos and pepsi?
    • This is a country with 100,000 special force troops.. and with a fairly good athletics; when they put their minds to something they do have the dollars.

      They kidnapped Japanese people and brought them there so they could train their spies how to fit into Japanese society.

      If they wanted, they could certainly kidnap some hackers from Germany, China or elsewhere..

      Or if geeks do as geeks are, promising them some hot Korean Babes the hackers might come for free, as it were...
  • My God folks, how is this news? Is anyone really surprised that a militant nation engages in information warfare?

    • Soon they'll be launching a giant tinfoil satellite to focus the sun's rays.
      • by toddbu (748790) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @03:02AM (#12721624)
        Don't say this too loud. I live in the Seattle area and know a guy in the storage locker business. A few years back when it was reported that N. Korea had a missle that *might* reach the U.S., he suddenly got flooded with requests for storage space from people wanting to move out of the area quickly. Many of them reported concern that we might get nuked real soon. While this might not necessarily be a bad thing if they took out Fremont, I seriously doubt that it would happen in my lifetime. It's really kind of funny when you think about it - there's the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Washington coast just waiting to deliver a magnitude 9.0 quake to this region and these guys are worried about N. Korea. I don't get why people worry about remote possibilities when there are real threats just around the corner.
        • ... it was reported that N. Korea had a missle that *might* reach the U.S. ... concern that we might get nuked real soon ... there's the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off the Washington coast just waiting to deliver a magnitude 9.0 quake to this region and these guys are worried about N. Korea. I don't get why people worry about remote possibilities when there are real threats just around the corner.

          Perhaps because politicians want them to be scared in order to be able to better push their objectives? S

          • Scaring people is powerful and nothing works better than a life-threatening foreign enemy where nobody knows for sure what they are able to pull off.

            Yay, at least someone gets it! The demonising of N. Korea has been escalating for two or three years now, softening us up for the up-coming war. Mark my words, we'll be at war in North Korea within two years. Many (inc. me) observed the exact same thing with respect to Iraq.

            Propaganda. Textbook example, that's all this is. Next they'll be telling us they

            • by sickofthisshit (881043) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @10:06AM (#12723115) Journal
              In two years, the all-volunteer force will have had such a nightmare in recruiting for the festering Iraq occupation that the U.S. military will be stretched even THINNER than it is today.

              Iraq was supposed to be a pushover, with terrain perfectly suited for the U.S. (see Gulf War I), had only Russia as a half-hearted partner.

              North Korea has been girding for this fight ever since the Korean War armistice. They have a major Asian capital held hostage by 50 years worth of artillery emplacements. They are also right in China's backyard, and China, while completely uninterested in the North Korean regime, doesn't want some flood of hungry refugees when they are busy dealing with millions of their own rural workers looking for jobs. That's why none of this has gone to the U.N.: China has enough power to keep the U.S. from steamrolling them; Russia had no choice but to let Iraq get smacked around.

              The U.S. would certainly prevail in a North Korean war, but millions of Koreans would die, with untold damage to a major economy. Samsung, LG, Hyundai, etc., are real economic players [try naming an Iraqi multinational]. Now, Japan getting nuked by North Korean warheads might be equally disastrous, so there is at least one way this could spiral out of control, but this is a war that NOBODY wants.

              That said, the Bush administration has been bungling the situation from day 1, particularly because the proper order of threats was 1) North Korea, 2a) Al-qaeda 2b) Pakistan 3) Iran 4) Iraq, and they started at #4, put #2b on the wrong list, and by attacking #4 managed to spook #3 and #1 enough to make the situation even trickier. Their only policy achievement in NK is a totally non-functional diplomatic arrangement that they screw up with the most childish kind of namecalling.They may very well bungle enough to get the war they don't want.
            • Propaganda. Textbook example, that's all this is. Next they'll be telling us they mistreat women/children. Hoist the flags, the 'regime change' starts shortly.

              right. North Korea is a great country to live in.

              Liberals are funny. They would rather have famine than an attempt to save these people. 1,000,000 people could be starving in the hands of a maniacal dictator, but still the U.S shouldn't get involved (in fact, they are the ones that are the dictatorship).

              if the U.S was actually that bad, there w
              • They would rather have famine than an attempt to save these people.

                No, we'd rather do something OTHER than invading and killing untold thousands and/or start a war with a nuclear power. See how you felt on 9.11? That's how other people feel when you attack them. Iraq was completely predictable, and you want to incite more hatred? The very thing that led to 9.11? Are you fucking insane or something?

                The U.S. even allows left-wing propaganda such as farenheit 9/11 to be played in movie theaters across t

            • Earth to tinfoil hat brigade: Just because the US Government says something, doesn't automatically make it not true.

              Read a little about what happens in N. Korea, from the people who have escaped. It'll make your skin crawl.
              • Read a little about what happens in N. Korea, from the people who have escaped. It'll make your skin crawl.

                So? It doesn't justify a war. Some of the things you guys have done in the last three years has made MY skin crawl. Not on the same level to be sure, but you have no right to kill tens of thousands of civilians and many more soldiers like you just did in Iraq. Even heard of the concept of learning from your mistakes? People do not like being invaded and will fight back!!. Go read a history book you t

            • Mark my words, we'll be at war in North Korea within two years. Many (inc. me) observed the exact same thing with respect to Iraq.

              Actually, when the US was gearing up for the invasion of Iraq, I remember thinking that they'd have a *heck* of a stronger case for invading North Korea.

              Unfortunately, North Korea almost certainly *do* have WMDs, which makes them a lot more dangerous to invade (*that* is the irony); and that's not even starting on the massive risk to South Korea, or the danger from a Chinese
              • Actually, when the US was gearing up for the invasion of Iraq, I remember thinking that they'd have a *heck* of a stronger case for invading North Korea.

                Except Iraq was far more profitable, in terms of strategic gain and finacial grabbing. About nine billion US has gone missing, and oil was pumped unmetered for almost a year. By the companies that back up your current administration just now. The people I know who served over there were guarding oil assets, and I know several folk who are leaving the army

        • by ccady (569355) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @10:20AM (#12723164) Journal

          I don't get why people worry about remote possibilities when there are real threats just around the corner.

          Same reason I drink Diet Coke with my cheeseburger.

        • During the first Gulf war, i caught a bit of a call-in show on CBC Newsworld. This was at the height of the run on gas masks at army surplus stores - here in North America. One caller at one point said - and i quote - "But what if they nuke Winnipeg?"

          My roommate & i laughed over that one for weeks.

    • Gotta keep the population a'skeered so that they'll support at them beelyuns in military spending. Hell no it ain't news. It's obvious. It's also probably a boldfaced lie. Getting truth out of the military is like squeezing blood from a turnip.
    • Because most of us are surprised that they have electricity in North Korea, much less computer technology, or the education to use it.

      N.
  • WMD? (Score:2, Funny)

    by billoo (582690)
    So does this mean that North Korean hackers have outdated information about their own country's WMDs?
    • In Korea, only old hackers have outdated information about their own country's WMD! No matter if it's North or South Korea!
  • this isn't news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unknown_goth (773919)
    maybe if the CIA wasn't using such out dated software and dedicated so much of their time searching for the evils of the world then they could catch up on their reading and protect us from larger threats than a plane going into a building. I'm sure there is some pretty smart guys in the CIA, but what motive to they have to improve their skills? I'm too tired to put much more thought into this but this is nothing surprising we all know the russians are way better than us as well. By the way how are the peo
    • Re:this isn't news (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Evil W1zard (832703) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @07:07AM (#12722465) Journal
      Have you ever contemplated that when they tell you that organization X, Y or Z made a mistake that maybe it is an exercise in deception? The public in general is dumb (and that is for all nations). And how are dumb people led? Very easily. Before you go and try to make jokes about agencies/organizations you probably really know nothing about other than sensationalistic news stories you might want to brush up a little on your history of politics and warfare.

      And back on topic. The story is total crap. Yes I'm sure they have an elite hacking crew of 4 people (2 of which remote in from Romania) and have access to all the greatest Tandy 2k technology. This is nothing more than typical NK we are super propaganda. Remember Total Destruction is Inevertibly Inevertible!
      • They may not have any people or as you suggest it might be just a few.. but trust that they have the lastest technology.

        They are a big exporter of long range missles, etc. If they can smuggle huge amounts of arms technology around the globe they can certainly pick up a few WinTel or Linux boxes..

  • Food (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:20AM (#12721470)
    Perhaps instead of employing 500-600 hackers to deter a threat that they create to intimidate their own people they should consider giving their people some food so they don't starve to death.
    • by X.25 (255792)
      Perhaps instead of employing 500-600 hackers to deter a threat that they create to intimidate their own people they should consider giving their people some food so they don't starve to death.

      Perhaps instead of approving US$ 500,000,000,000 defence budget to deter a threat they create to intimidate their own people they should consider giving their people some medical care and social security, so they don't sleep in streets (or chose your favourite activity).

      Same thing, different package.
      • Instead of using $500,000,000,000 try "more money than the rest of the world put together" or 2,000$ per person.

        There is a point where people just see a lot of zeros. 500,000,000,000 and 5,000,000,000,000 look about the same but on is 10x as large.

        Same thing, different package.

        Or 150% of the US's total energy costs (electric, gas, jet fuel, natural gas, heating oil ect). It's really funny when people go ape over 50c at the pump but they don't mind spending thousands of dollars every year on the
    • Re:Food (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dread_ed (260158)
      You got modded funny, but the really funny part is regardless of how much money NK does or dosent spend on things other than food, people will still starve in that country because it is what that government wants.

      You think that they lack funds to feed people? Yeah sure, just like Ethiopia lacked the funds and ability to feed their people in the 80's and 90's. Oh wait, I forgot about the hundreds of tons of food that just rotted on the docks while the ruling class held parties and banquets that cost mill
  • well.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ltwally (313043) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:21AM (#12721477) Homepage Journal
    Well, first of all: The CIA isn't tasked with electronic/computerised intelligence/counterintelligence; that's the NSA's job.

    And, second of all: Having experienced the wrath of korean hax0r's myself, while playing Counter-Strike, I can easily believe this.
  • He means, "They're not very good, but ignorant sheep will probably assume that they are."

    Now why he would want to say something like that is, IMO, a more interesting question...
  • why does democratic South Korea compare N. Korea to the U.S.? Is this something they want to draw international attention to because it "threatens" their security? I know S. Korea is the closest land to N. Korea but this is over-reacting.
  • Whatever! (Score:5, Funny)

    by BigZaphod (12942) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:31AM (#12721517) Homepage
    Everyone knows that the CIA hackers are 31337 and hack people ALL the time! They even hack into computers that aren't even connected to the 'net! I once saw this hacker and he hacked a system so much that it EXPLODED and it KILLED like a million people! And that was just with his pinky. And I knew right then he had to be a CIA hacker d00d. And I asked him. And he hacked my laptop which was OFF and closed AND HAD no battery! And he did it just by looking at it and he scowled and he turned around and then he hacked a park bench and then digitally vanished. And when I opened my laptop it said "I'm a CIA hacker d00d and am 31337. Tell n0 0n3." Oh crap... ,mnb,b4, #$$# NO CARRIER>>>
  • *cough* (Score:2, Funny)

    by UniXY (888820)
    Hackers? Simple. Embargo asbestos shipments.
  • by Dr Kool, PhD (173800) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:35AM (#12721530) Homepage Journal
    "a five-year school that has been turning out about 100 cyber warfare specialists a year since 1981" -- back in 1981 computers weren't very prevalent and hackers were a minor nuisance at worst. The Internet was limited strictly to research labs and universities, I strongly doubt that NK even had a single internet connection in the whole country back in 1981. Yet they were turning out 100 cyber warriors per year?

    This is a joke. If North Korea did try a "cyber attack" on America we could cut off their internet with a pair of scissors. The average cable modem user in America has more bandwidth than their entire country. It's hard to afford computers and network access when 99.9% of your GDP goes to support your military and feed your people.
    • I'd consider the hackers around 80s rather good.. they werent script kiddies who downloaded something someone else wrote just to see if it worked, they developed some of the tools so new even the sysadmins at that time were surprised to see. Those programs are commonly used tools today, such as port scanners etc.

      I highly doubt that any country had internet connections as considered today in 80es, but all they needed back then was one telephone line.

      > This is a joke. If North Korea did try a "cyber a
      • Satellite phone? I think not. I don't think the US would even need to *ask* the satellite operators before they all ceased to accept calls from the general region of N. Korea.

        But I would wager that if we asked, with reason, NK would have no sat access within an hour.

        On a total side note: WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH ALL THE AC POSTS! You know the ones I mean -- the spam from other threads.

        I don't get it: WHY? There is no possible benifit. *sigh* Never mind. I forget that some people get off by being prats.
    • by Gopal.V (532678) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @04:44AM (#12721987) Homepage Journal
      > The average cable modem user in America has more bandwidth than their entire country.

      The country itself need not have enough bandwidth. Distributed DoS could take down a box using american zombie PCs. And let me tell you, there is no dearth of those. An attack from the inside of the network is perfectly possible - ever read Andromeda Strain [yahoo.com] ?. A compromised machine inside your network would need you to have a LOT of scissors :)

      > It's hard to afford computers and network access when 99.9% of your GDP goes to support your military and feed your people.

      Cyber warfare is military funded ... It is military without all the blood and guts routine - with all the Art of War [chinapage.com] fire tactics.

    • Since the "internet" or Internet Protocol didn't "turn on until 1983" even the US didn't
      have a "single" internet connection in 1981.. hmmmmm and yet here we are!

      ARPAnet dates from the late 60's and forgetting Babbages' failures, there have been industrial uses for computers from the last 40's and 50's and so while perhaps you can only think of computers in the context of a PC (a personal computer), NK certainly could have had a technology "hacking" team since the 50's or 60's (if not before).

      Turning out 1
    • We'll just rent out that massive botnet [securityfocus.com] that CA says is being created. At 5 cents a PC we could get...

      Wait. What do you mean they won't take Kim Chee? Dammit, they know we're good for it!

  • korea.blackholes.us :-)...
  • by iamcf13 (736250) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:40AM (#12721554) Homepage Journal
    I've seen this mentioned here quite some time ago (no, I don't have the relavent link at hand). Anyway, my guess is these 'hackers' might be 'cookbookers' who are just 'following scripts' put out by 'real hackers' (really system crackers). However, as North Korea is a recoginzed 'terrorist state' and has 'The Bomb', this threat should not be taken lightly.

    If the CIA or any other world famous security organization have their act together, all the 'good stuff' is on an internal computer network that has ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION TO THE INTERNET (or any other form of 'at large' telecommunications). This is very important as it is impossible to break into such a system -- there is no 'front door' to use to gain access. The usual procedure is to have two computers side by side: one on the secure internal network and the other connected to the internet/unsecure network. A human being is required to type information from the insecure PC to the secure one and vice versa. In this setup, the only way the secrets can get out is if the human in this situation is incompetent, being blackmailed (and told no one who can help them), or an outright traitor -- there are no other alternatives.

    There is a slight chance of passively picking up the secret stuff with a so called TEMPEST attack but surely the IT people at these kind of organizations have already taken measures to make such attacks effectively impossible.
    • Better if they used an algorythm to generate thousands upon thousands of 'classified reports' which were just meaningless crap. They could hide their genuine content in this rubbish, so that if someone did luck into a genuine page, they wouldn't know whether it was crap or not.

      Oh wait, I just described the world wide web.
    • There is a slight chance of passively picking up the secret stuff with a so called TEMPEST attack but surely the IT people at these kind of organizations have already taken measures to make such attacks effectively impossible.

      When I worked for the Air Force, we had to work in a copper sheilded building; and that was just for 'Sensitive' computing. The folks who work with secret stuff had a fully modern and secure facility located on a remote hill with unobstructed views all round. I haven't seen the compu
  • The CIA Factbook [cia.gov] has little to say, but a Wired article [wired.com] seems to dismiss the threat, although it notes information is hard to come by.
    • "The CIA Factbook has little to say"

      This is indeed true when it comes to important matters. And the info in it changes as the geopolitical situation changes.

      If you ever get a chance, take a diff between a pre-2001 edition and a post-2001 edition, especially the parts that deal with military manpower, particularly that of the USA.

  • And I bet they play golf like their Glorious Leader does! [216.26.163.62]
  • The Korea Times (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheLearnerX (889343)
    The Korea Times [hankooki.com] has a more informative version of this article.
  • they're in their mothers basements.
  • Why don't those communists wear any ties?

    Because.... we all know a hacker is a short-sleeved man with a tie!
  • Hmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by d474 (695126)
    |<1|\/| j0|\|8 i1-337
  • Remember Iraq? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pastis (145655) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @03:44AM (#12721795)
    "Iraq has the 4th largest army in the world". That's what they kept telling us before the first Iraq war.

    Now North Korea has an almost as big army of hackers as US...

    Pattern or coincidence?
    • sure #'s lie and bigger isn't always better.. Iraq did have some hard core troops.. Nothing that could withstand US air power.. it wasn't like we battled it out in the trenches (ala' WWI).

      But NK has access to top Soviet and Chinese Technology and a spy network that could bring them any needed US technology (or that from Japan).
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @03:48AM (#12721813)
    I mean first it's the NSA that concerns itself with electrionic intelligence, not the CIA. The CIA is about human intelligence. Also an offensive tasking seems like it would more likely be a DoD thing, Airforce maybe though who knows. NSA/CIA are more about intelligence gathering than any kind of direct offensive support, at least offically.

    At any rate, how the hell would this guy have any idea how good they are, espically given he can't keep the agencies straight? I mean the NSA is very secretive, they don't say much on how they operate, what particularly they do, etc. The nature of an intelligence agency. What's more, there hasn't been a conflict where any sort of US syber warfare division would have had much to do to demonstrate their prowess.

    So we have no information on training, no public demonstrations of capabilities, and no wartime demonstrations. Ok, great, so basically anything we say about it is total specualtion. The US's capability could be anything from three teenagers playing Counterstrike all day to a huge team of the best trained hackers in the world. There's just no way to know.

    So it looks like this guy is talking out his ass on the US capabilities, which makes me think he's probably doing the same on North Korean capabilites. I mean they may have lots, they may have none, but who knows?

    However it really seems to be of little concern, given that North Korea has little Internet access to their nation. I mean people in the US and Europe tend to take for granted the large number of well connected providers around, that's not the case in NK. It wouldn't take much to totally cut them off from the rest of the Internet.

    Besdies, in theory at least, all US military control and all classified data travels on networks physically seperate from the Internet. Goes back to the Kennedy assanation where the government found the PSTN so clogged they couldn't communicate and so worke don getting their own. Today the policy, and hopefulyl the implementation, is an air gap: physical seperation of classified networks from the Internet. So a "cyber attack" might screw a bunch of people with in secure comptuers for a couple days, but it wouldn't stop the B-2s from comming.
    • I mean first it's the NSA that concerns itself with electrionic intelligence, not the CIA. The CIA is about human intelligence.

      Nope. The NSA is about security, not intel. (See the name? "National Security Agency") Their job is to defend against outside intel organizations.

      The CIA is about foreign intel, not specifically human intel. (See the name? "Central Intelligence Agency") In fact, the majority of the CIA's budget goes to electronic or signal intel, not human intelligence, which was a mistake.
      • Nope. The NSA is about security, not intel. (See the name? "National Security Agency") Their job is to defend against outside intel organizations.

        They do both. From their mission statement:

        The Information Assurance mission provides the solutions, products, and services, and conducts defensive information operations, to achieve information assurance for information infrastructures critical to U.S. national security interests.

        The foreign signals intelligence or SIGINT mission allows for an effective

  • He claims the DPRK hackers to be 'equal to that of the CIA,' whatever that might mean.

    1. S. Korea knows how good N. Korean hackers are. meaning they've seen their work or have been attacked.
    2. S. Korea knows how good CIA hackers are through the same methods.
    3. CIA's hacking qualities has to be 'up there' or else making the comparison would be meaningless.
  • I'm not going to say our guys are smarter than their guys. But something tells me they don't have anywhere NEAR the cool toys that the CIA has to play with. Crypto smackdown, bring it on.
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @07:38AM (#12722564) Homepage

    North Korea is known to be actively trying to achieve nuclear weapons.

    North Korea is known to have killed thousands, if not millions of its own people thanks to its goverment (predominately famine).

    North Korea is run by a complete and utter barking mad nutter.

    So nuclear weapons... that puts them up with first world nations from the... 1940s and 50s. They have a rocket that can't even make it to Japan and their leader is much more interested in self-publicity and oppressing his population than almost anything else.

    Having 500 "hackers" trying to compromise networks in the west... well they've been SPECTACULARLY successfull haven't they with all the networks they've caused to fail over the last few years.

    North Korea is a Bad Country(tm) but lets not believe what South Korea says. We know that North Korea has no RADAR worth talking of as the US have deployed stealth fighters, which means the radar must be 20+ years out of date.

    Backward country, backward leader, backward tech. They could build a huge amount (see South Korea) if they just stopped killing their own people, fortunately for all of us (and unfortunately for N Koreans) their leader appears to quite like doing the killing and posturing, more than actually delivering.

  • by Momoru (837801)
    Dont they need electricity first? Last time i checked a night lights satellite of the world N Korea was one of the few dark spots.
  • by subtropolis (748348) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @10:35AM (#12723235)
    Aside from the fact that that's a mostly meaningless statement, perhaps he was referring to the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA).
  • This is a SOUTH korean paper about NORTH korean hackers. This is not one nation calling their own hackers l33t as numerous posts above have suggested.
  • by EQ (28372) on Saturday June 04, 2005 @02:13PM (#12724498) Homepage Journal
    The CIA? That blows any sort of credibility in the report. The CIA doesnt run "hakcers", the Department of Defense does, HQ'd on an Airforce base. It was publicised back in April in this article [wired.com] on Wired.com Yes there is a trehat to the free world's information infrastructure. And it is a danger. But the main article far overstates it. The referenced original article is propaganda, pure and simple. Someone must want some budget money, so they scare up a foe to be bigger than it is.

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