The Financial Times reports Operational Plan 5015 — the most up-to-date blueprint for a US/South Korean war with Pynongyang, including a ‘decapitation strike’ against Kim Jong-un — was among the classified material seized by Pyongyang.
If true, this represents a serious blow to diplomatic and military efforts to counter the heretic state’s increasingly hostile posture.
It also represents the most significant known victory of a special unit of North Korean hackers, variously dubbed Bureau 121 or the ‘Lazarus Group”, which works with Pyonyang’s General Bureau of Reconnaissance spy agency.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at a computer as he inspects a long-range artillery sub-unit. Picture: AFP KCNA via KNSSource:AFP
South Korean member of parliament and member of the ruling Democaratic party Lee Cheol-hee reportedly revealed the sensitive data loss to South Korean media today.
Mr Lee said he had been informed by South Korean department of defence officials that up to 235 gigabytes of data was believed copied from a supposedly secure military data centre in the capital of Soul in September last year.
Up to 80 per cent of the documents making up that trove of information remain unidentified, he said.
But those known to have been lifted include sensitive contingency plans for the deployment of special forces in Seoul, along with details on the defence of major military bases, power plants and other critical items of infrastructure.
The first inkling of the daring cyber heist came in May, when South Korea’s defence ministry admitted Pynongyang-based hackers had broken into their online military network. It also accused North Korea of an attack against a key naval defence contractor.
In November last year it was revealed an agency responsible for building a new radar network had also been attacked.
Marines of the US and South Korea take positions after landing on a beach during a joint military combined amphibious exercise last year. Plans detailing such events are believed among data stolen by North Korean hackers. Picture: Kim Jun-bum/Yonhap via APSource:AP
NORTH KOREA’S CYBER ARMY
It’s not the first time North Korea has been accused of engaging in ambitious cyber attacks.
In a nation where most of its citizens have no access to the internet whatsoever, Pyongyang’s team of government-backed hackers has been wreaking havoc for more than a decade.
It’s believed a special unit of more than 3000 hackers has been attempting, among other things, to find ways to exploit the digital currency ‘bitcoin’ as a means of bypassing financial sanctions.
North Korea was in 2014 blamed for a devastating infiltration of Sony Pictures in 2014. A trove of sensitive documents and emails was released to the public in retaliation for the North Korea parody movie The Interview.
A North Korean defector has claimed a specialised university had been established in the city of Hamhung as early as 2003 to generate a pool of hackers for government “cyber command” use.
South Korea has repeatedly blamed Pyongyang for cyber attacks over the past two decades which have paralysed banking, disrupted communications and denied access to services.
Most recently, North Korean hackers were blamed for the crippling worldwide infestation of WannaCry ransomware. This piece of malicious code infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, forcing factories to shut, hospitals to close and transport systems to sit idle.
It demanded the payment of a ransom in return for a password to unlock important data that had been maliciously locked away on infected computers.