World should be “very worried” about DPRK cyber threat, says South Korean general

World should be “very worried” about DPRK cyber threat, says South Korean general

17/01/18

Luke Foddy, Communications Manager

North Korea’s cyber capabilities should be considered “just below their nuclear capability” as a risk to global security, according to one of South Korea’s most decorated generals.

Speaking in London, Lieutenant General In-Bum Chun said “we should be very worried,” about the North’s cyber sophistication.

A report published today has linked last year’s hacking of a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange with the DPRK, while the high-profile ‘Wannacry’ cyber-attack on the UK’s National Health Service was reported to have originated in the country.

“North Korea’s cyber capability is something I think is right below their nuclear capability as a threat,” the General said.

General Chun is one of South Korea’s most experienced military commanders. Since retiring from the military in 2016 after 35 years of service, he has become a leading commentator on security affairs in the peninsula. He served as security advisor to South Korea’s Minjoo Party and is a visiting scholar at John Hopkins University.

A key reason why North Korea’s cyber capabilities should be respected is the emphasis the regime places on finding talented individuals, the General claimed.

“In North Korea, they have a system called ‘songbun’. They categorise their own people into four categories. It’s like a caste system, but more oriented on loyalties.

“The only area they do not apply this caste system is picking out computer whizz-kids.”

General Chun also drew on an example to illustrate what he believes is North Korea’s strengths in the cyber field.

“About 10 years ago they attacked one of our banks. It took us about six months to gather proof that it was North Korea. Then we got to thinking: why would they do that? Why attack one of our banks?

“We later concluded that they wanted to know what our procedures were. They wanted to know who we called. What we did. Who did it. Who didn’t do it.

“That’s how good they are.”