A member of South Korea’s parliament who sits on its defense committee is claiming that North Korean hackers have stolen some of his nation’s most sensitive military documents — including a plan to assassinate North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
The South Korean Yonhap news service is reporting that Rhee Cheol-hee, a member of the country’s ruling political party and a sitting member of its parliamentary defense committee, said the information North Korean hackers stole came from the country’s Ministry of Defense.
The hackers apparently accessed plans for South Korean special forces, information about power plants and military facilities, and wartime contingency plans crafted jointly by the U.S. and South Korea.
The BBC is saying that the South Korean defense ministry has declined to comment on the allegations. Press officers from the U.S. Department of Defense were not available for comment at the time of this article.
Rhee claims that roughly 235 gigabytes of military documents had been stolen from the Defense Integrated Data Center and that 80% of the stolen documents haven’t been identified.
Apparently, the hack took place last September. The South Korean government had announced that a large amount of data had been stolen from its systems in May, and that North Korea may have been behind the cyber-theft, but the government didn’t detail what was taken.
Since Korea elected a new President, Moon Jae-in, over the summer, the government may be willing to expose the missteps that occurred under the previous administration of the now disgraced and impeached former leader, Park Geun-hye.
North Korea has denied the hacking claims.
However, the Yonhap news service reported that Seoul has been pushing to beef up its cyber defense capabilities since it suspects that several attacks on corporate and government websites have been organized by the North Korean government in Pyongyang.
If the news is true, it won’t do anything to alleviate global fears around the potential that President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong-un might actually start World War III (a topic that was trending over the weekend on Twitter thanks to comments from retiring U.S. Senator Bob Corker).
While never on the best terms, the U.S. and North Korea have been engaged in increasingly bellicose rhetoric since the rogue nation state and its dictatorial ruler began testing long range missiles and announced the successful detonation of a nuclear bomb.
While the nuclear threat is new, North Korean hackers have been blamed for cyber attacks ranging from the hack of Sony Pictures to this years catastrophic malware and ransomware attacks from May, which impacted the nation-state’s only real ally, China.