The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has tagged North Korea as the hand behind some of the most headline-grabbing hacks of the 21st century, according to an alert put out last Tuesday, June 13. The report further warned that the North Korean government is targeting media, aerospace, and financial companies in the United States.
The hackers—referred to as "Hidden Cobra" in the report—have also been called the Lazarus Group and Guardians of Peace. The Deadline reported the group was behind "the most devastating cyber-crime ever committed against an American corporation" in 2014. North Korean government hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment in what was believed to be a "retribution" of sorts for Sony's production of a movie called The Interview, which featured a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Cybersecurity research groups also pointed their fingers at the Lazarus Group as behind the ransomware attack known as WannaCry, which froze computers at hospitals in the UK and spread to 112 countries. The ransomware demanded users to pay a ransom in bitcoin or lose access to their data, but it ended up not raising much cash.
The report said North Korean government hackers employ a range of techniques including DDoS attacks which bombard websites with garbage traffic so the legitimate users cannot access them. Other methods include keyloggers, which record the keystrokes of infected computers, and malware that erases information from compromised computers.
"Most attackers target vulnerable applications and operating systems," the report says, but a countermeasure was suggested against the hackers: Update or patch operating systems and applications. The WannaCry ransomware was largely successful because there were many users who do not regularly update their computers.
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