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South Korea accuses North Korea of hacking military, stealing classified data

North Korea has been accused of hacking South Korea’s military cyber command and stealing classified data.

South Korea’s cyber command is an agency in its military for tracking and preventing cyber threats but now it finds itself hacked.

“It seems the intranet server of the cyber command has been contaminated with malware,” a military official told the Yonhap News Agency. “We found that some military documents, including confidential information, have been hacked.”

The military said it contained the malware but still has not yet determined how much data has been stolen. Yonhap reports the breach may force Seoul to “rewrite its military operation plans” if too much sensitive information was accessed.

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While the attack is being disclosed in December, concerns were first raised in August and September when one government representative claimed a server had been breached. Kim Jin-pyo, who also sits on the national defense committee, had claimed that malicious code was found on a server connected to 20,000 military computers.

South Korea pointed the finger at North Korea as the perpetrator but this is not the first time Seoul has made such allegations against its long-time foe. The hermit kingdom has been accused of hacking the South Korea’s government, banks, and public transport systems multiple times. North Korea has always denied the charges.

Earlier in 2016, South Korea alleged North Korea was targeting millions of regular citizens by carrying out attacks on mobile devices. The government of Kim Jong-un is believed to have a dedicated hacking division in its military, staffed with thousands, for hacking enemy states and their citizens.

It has been reported that North Korea, despite its rudimentary resources, has invested greatly in developing its cyber capabilities to compensate for its lack of traditional weaponry. A Pentagon report from 2013 stated: “Given North Korea’s bleak economic outlook, [hacking] may be seen as a cost-effective way to develop asymmetric, deniable military options.”

Since then, North Korea has been embroiled in several hacking controversies, namely its alleged involvement in the 2014 Sony Pictures hack.