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Lawmaker: ‘We should never underestimate Pyongyang’ cyber savvy

- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2014

At least one lawmaker says North Korea has flexed enough muscles to show that it has the capability and technological savvy to conduct a significant cyberattack on the United States. Now the question is: Would they?

"They do have the capability, obviously," Alexandre Mansourov, a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, told Fox News. "But I don't think they have the intention."

Think again, say other experts, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have watched North Korea's many cyberattacks on its southern neighbor with growing alarm.

"We should never underestimate Pyongyang's willingness to engage in dangerous and provocative behavior to extract more aid and concessions from the international community," Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Select Committee on Intelligence, told Fox News. "North Korea is certainly not the most capable nation-state threat actor today, but even relatively minor cyberplayers can sometimes find vulnerabilities in complicated civilian architectures and cause significant disruptions."

Part of the U.S. alarm comes from the fact that several hackers who have defected from North Korea claim that Kim Jong-un has big aspirations for cyberwarfare. Fox News reported that since 2010, the Northern regime has been training thousands of students of computer science how to conduct cyber warfare.

Meanwhile, some of the attacks that have gone forth against South Korea in the past five years have been high-grade technology assaults — conducted by highly trained cyber criminals, according to Fox News.

In congressional testimony more than a year ago, Gen. James Thurman, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, detailed the developing state of North Korea's technological savvy.

"The newest addition to the North Korean asymmetric arsenal is a growing cyberwarfare capability [that] employs sophisticated computer hackers trained to launch cyberinfiltration and cyberattacks" against both South Korea and the United States, he said, Fox News reported.

And the threat's only grown more pronounced in recent months, Mr. Rogers said.

"If someone was trying to shut down our power grid when there is a huge polar vortex blowing through the country, that would have a serious impact on us," he told Fox News

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