PRESIDENT Trump’s plans to fight North Korea are in peril after Kim Jong-un’s hackers ripped some 235 gigabytes of secret data.
TOP secret war plans are among a host of classified military documents reportedly stolen by North Korean hackers in a ‘raid’ on a secure defence data centre last year.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency 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.
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. “The Ministry of National Defense has yet to find out about the content of 182 gigabytes of the total (stolen) data,” Mr Lee said in a statement.
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.
Spartan 300, the South Korean plan to find and kill key North Korean leaders — including dictator Kim Jong-un — in the opening moments of a war was revealed to the world earlier this year.
It was a plan involving Special Forces troops supposedly ready to be put into play with just 24-hours notice.
The existence of such a plan reportedly infuriated Kim Jong-un, spurring him on to a new round of bellicose bluster.
If the North Korean leader now possesses key details of this plan, it could explain why he has dramatically changed his habits in recent months.
Kim Jong-un has reportedly stopped being driven in his favourite cars, and is instead using an unscheduled car pool for his movements. His regular holiday and entertainment spots are also no longer on his itinerary.
It’s all part of a bid to make his movements much harder to track by would-be assassins.
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 6000 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.
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.