Seoul Accuses North Korea Of Stealing Secret Data On New Laser Weapon: Report

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Seoul has accused North Korean hackers of stealing classified information on a new laser weapon system and key South Korean defence secrets, Independent reported. The North Korean hacker group, known as Andariel, allegedly stole data from 14 entities after accessing a huge cache of data from defence and research firms in the South. The hackers stole 1.2TB of data, including information on advanced anti-aircraft weapons. After the alleged cyber-hacking incident, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are working together to determine the extent of the data leak by the group. Notably, The US Department of the Treasury in 2019 listed Andariel as a North Korean state-sponsored hacking group, focused on conducting malicious cyber operations on foreign businesses, government agencies and the defence industry. The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency which is investigating the case accused the group of accessing the proxy servers 83 times between last December and March. The investigation determined that Andariel stole up to 1.2 terabytes of data from South Korean organizations and also extorted a total of 470 million won, or about $357,000, in Bitcoin from three domestic and foreign companies as ransom. North Korean hackers have been blamed for cyberattacks netting millions of dollars, though Pyongyang previously denied being involved in cybercrime. Earlier this year, The Economist reported that North Korean hackers stole around $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency through cyberattacks on digital currency outlets in 2022. They stole around $400 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2021 as well. The news outlet added that North Korea has developed creative ways to finance its missile programme despite being unable to feed its people, including by forging foreign currency, committing insurance fraud, and producing and selling weapons and illegal drugs. Although Pyongyang is subject to numerous international restrictions due to its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, analysts claim the North has also bolstered its cyber capabilities with an army of thousands of skilled hackers who extract finances to fund the state’s weapons programs.

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