North Korean cyberwarfare: as big a threat as its nuclear weapons?

  • Hackers from the hermit kingdom are renowned for their skill and speed, second only to Russia and ahead of China
  • Even if Kim Jong-un agrees to nuclear disarmament, he will still maintain Pyongyang’s cyber army, experts say

North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme has for several years posed a growing threat to international security – to its neighbours in the South and to the rest of the world.

However, the hermit kingdom has also been fashioning another weapon with which to harass the global community: it has carefully and quietly honed its cyberwarfare capabilities to the point that today, according to cybersecurity experts, its hackers are among the best in the world.

In terms of speed – a crucial weapon in the arsenal of a cyber hacker – they are second only to Russian intrusion groups and ahead of the Chinese, according to American cybersecurity technology company Crowdstrike.

It’s not just that banks, governments and institutions stand to lose millions if not billions of dollars; personal identities and information can be stolen and ransomed, and entire economies could theoretically be dismantled. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been quoted as saying nuclear arms go hand in hand with cyber weapons.

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