South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that its long-term northern rival has created a technology reconnaissance team in order to collect information and disrupt South Korean and U.S. military computer networks.
The news comes on the heels of an agreement struck between South Korea and the United States, as both countries agreed to join forces to fight "cyber terrorism." According to the Ministry of National Defense, the agreement is a means to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on detecting and fighting cyber terrorism. The agreement does not, however, specify particular cyber attacks and threatening organizations.
However, according to Yonhap's source, the new North Korean team currently enlists one hundred members, all hackers, many of which are graduates of a military academy in Pyongyang. The team also supposedly has upgraded equipment and strengthened cyber warfare capabilities. Sources even report that the General Staff of North Korean People's Army actually kick-started the team years ago, and that it visits U.S. military sites more frequently than any other country.
So what's the team's primary goal? To hack into the U.S. and South Korean networks, download sensitive, classified information, and even grab combat simulations. “This unit tries to take control of South Korean and U.S. military information systems by hacking into their computer networks and taking out classified data. When necessary, they may spread computer viruses to disrupt the networks,” one of the sources told Yonhap.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service, the country's main spy agency, said it could not confirm the Yonhap report at the time of this writing. However, the country's Defense Ministry did acknowledge that Pyongyang has been training hackers over the past few years.