Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

North Korea's cyber capabilities cause alarm

North Korea’s cyber ambitions have been an increasing concern in recent years. One recent report claims that the North Korean military has about 10,000 cyber soldiers at the ready and tasked with cyber terrorism attacks on South Korea. Other intelligence sources claim that North Korea has an additional 30,000 cyber soldiers who have been secretly trained for 10 years on hacking, conducting cyber espionage and waging psychological warfare against South Korea.

The extent of the damage caused by what has been referred to as the largest cyberattack in the country’s history is still being assessed. Cyberattacks against South Korean officials have been in the news of late, and their cyber intelligence resources have openly pointed their fingers at North Korea as the source of those cyberattacks. In fact, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has been very vocal on the subject.

This is not a new issue. Back in the summer of 2009, Seoul officials openly accused North Korea of launching “massive” cyberattacks against both South Korea and the United States. Now add to that the fact that South Korean police recently uncovered a hacking effort organized by South Korean gangsters that used the services of North Korean cyber soldiers.

The conclusion that can be drawn is that military tensions on the Korean peninsula continue to increase, as do the acts of cyber aggression. There are 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea, and earlier this year, Lt. Gen. John Johnson, commander of the Eighth U.S. Army in South Korea, said no reductions were planned.

Will U.S. troops stationed in South Korea be drawn into this growing cyber conflict? If so, will the altercation remain in cyberspace, or will it spill over into a physical confrontation? At this point, the answer to both questions appears to be yes.

Posted by Kevin Coleman on Aug 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM


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