Posted on December 30, 2018 at 8:42 AM
Hacking attacks have undoubtedly left a significant mark in 2018, and they are still not stopping in the final days of the year. According to new information provided by the South Korean government, a recent hacking attack has compromised personal data of around 1,000 North Korean defectors.
The attack hit one of South Korean defector support centers, and while this is only one of 25 in total, the consequences are still severe. The information regarding the attack was posted on the center’s website, and it claims that hackers managed to steal personal data — including addresses, names, and dates of birth — of 997 individuals.
The attack supposedly started on Monday, December 19th, when one of the center’s employees received and opened a malicious document via email. The center’s announcement also states that relevant agencies were notified of the attack, and that appropriate security measures have been taken.
At the time of the announcement, there were no reported cases of abuse of stolen information. In addition, the center stated that they would continue working on preventing any damage that might come in an aftermath of the incident.
The stolen information affects only the North Korean defectors currently located in the province of North Gyeongsang, except those in the city of Gyeongsan.
It is estimated that around 30,000 defectors are currently residing in South Korea. As mentioned, less than 1,000 were affected, and those whose data was stolen were already notified of the incident, as reported by the Ministry of Unification. Support desks have also already been established, and all affected individuals were advised to call or visit if they require any help, information, or advice.
This is not the first time
At the time of writing, the authorities are still looking into the incident. They were not able to confirm whether this was a random attack or a calculated attempt by North Korena government’s hacking groups. Many with a deeper understanding of the politics between the two countries fear that the Pyongyang regime is responsible for the attack. If true, both defectors and their families in both countries may be in danger, as communist countries are known for conducting retaliation against defectors’ families when they cannot reach defectors themselves.
Furthermore, North Korea is known for using hackers in different campaigns that aimed to unmask and reveal locations of their defectors. A similar incident occurred in 2013 when it was confirmed that the attack was caused by a state-sponsored hacking group. Similarly, another attack was made in 2016 by a group called FreeMilk, which attempted to track defectors who were hiding in the UK. Finally, another attack was reported earlier this year, and this one also targeted defectors living in South Korea.