- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

North Korean hackers were accused Monday of stealing thousands of sensitive military documents from computers in South Korea, including designs for a U.S. fighter jet.

The cyber division of Korean National Police Agency in Seoul said Monday that hackers based north of its border managed to pilfer more than 40,000 defense industry documents by penetrating South Korean firms.

Hackers working on behalf of Pyongyang began the operation in 2014 and infected 140,000 computers with malware across 160 different corporations, state-run enterprises and government agencies before being detected in February, law enforcement said.

In addition to stealing military documents from compromised computers, police said the perpetrators likely planned to use the thousands of hacked machines in order to wage a massive cyberattack from within against Seoul, Reuters reported.

“There is a high possibility that the North aimed to cause confusion on a national scale by launching a simultaneous attack after securing many targets of cyber terror, or intended to continuously steal industrial and military secrets,” the Korean National Police Agency told Reuters.

Among the companies compromised during the campaign were two major South Korean conglomerates — the Hanjin Group and the SK Group — whose affiliate include Korean Air, the nation’s largest airline company.


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In breaching Korean Air computers, hackers reportedly stole schematics concerning portions of the F-15 fighter jet uses by the U.S. Defense Department and a manual for a South Korean military drone, according to The Hankyoreh, a daily South Korean newspaper.

“After inquiring with the military and corporations, we were informed that the leaked documents were not critical or classified,” the paper quoted a police source as having said.

Separately, the Wall Street Journal attributed an unnamed South Korean military official with downplaying the severity of the cyber breach, saying the leak’s impact on national security would likely be “negligible.”

The police agency said it believed Pyongyang was responsible for the hacks since the attacks were traced back to an IP address in the North Korean capital where a similar campaign in 2013 was said to have originated.

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