North Korea suspected in new malware attack in South

Kim Jong Un. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun

Jan. 8 (UPI) — The South Korean government confirmed a mass email containing malware and sent to journalists registered with Seoul’s unification ministry was sent from an unidentified external source.

The email with the malicious code was sent out Monday and is believed to be of North Korean origin, Yonhap reported.

The targets of the email were 77 reporters who have previously had contact with the unification ministry. The message from a source claiming to be the unification ministry included three attachments, including a compressed or zipped file that could potentially download phishing software, according to the report.

Baek Tae-hyun, the unification ministry’s spokesman, said the agency has experienced several cyberattacks and breaches since New Year’s Day.

Baek said the ministry is working with police cybersecurity authorities to resolve the issue.

The spokesman did not say North Korea is the primary suspect behind the attacks.

Moon Jong-hyun at East Security, an IT firm, said the files in the email, when downloaded and opened, could provide a channel for hackers to infiltrate personal computers.

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The malicious codes with names like “freedom.dll” indicate North Korea could be behind the attack, the cybersecurity expert told Yonhap.

A previous mass email from an unknown source claiming to be the unification ministry also targeted reporters, and contained an “analysis” of Kim’s New Year message. Attachments in the email contained malicious codes, according to East Security.

Computer science and engineering are areas of focus for North Korea policy.

Pyongyang’s Workers’ Party paper Rodong Sinmun stated Monday the state plans to raise the quality of Kim Il Sung University to “world-class status.”

Kim Jong Un has stressed the advancement of science and technology. Kim Il Sung University has published about half of North Korea’s articles in the sciences, according to international journal Nature.

 

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