The Korea Herald


Police probe NK hacking S. Korean military officials’ emails

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : May 21, 2024 - 15:48

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(Getty Images Bank) (Getty Images Bank)

The police have recently launched an investigation into the hacking of personal emails belonging to high-ranking military officials, which is believed to have been orchestrated by North Korean hacking groups.

The Defense Ministry confirmed Tuesday that a joint investigation into the email hacking had been conducted by the police and the military police. Additionally, the ministry has set up a dedicated task force to address the matter.

Ministry spokesperson Jeon Ha-kyu clarified that the compromised email accounts were private and unrelated to official work duties.

To prevent further damages, Jeon said that the ministry notified those affected by the hack and implemented additional security measures, such as adding two-factor logins and conducting antivirus checks.

According to local media reports, the hacker group reportedly targeted around 100 personal email accounts, including those belonging to general-level military officials and high-ranking and senior officials at the Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

However, Jeon refuted media reports claiming that 100 personal accounts were hacked, explaining that the numbers had been exaggerated.

Police officials are currently in the early stages of their investigation. Specific details and the extent of damage resulting from the hacking allegations remain unconfirmed, as the investigation is ongoing.

This is the first time that a large number of senior military figures have been targeted by a hack.

The military and the police are weighing the possibility that the hack was carried out by one of North Korea's state-sponsored hacking groups, such as Lazarus, Andariel or Kimsuky.

According to the National Intelligence Service, 80 percent of cyberattacks targeting public institutions have been traced back to North Korea, with South Korea seeing an average of over 1.62 million cyberattack attempts per day toward the public sector in 2023.

For instance, the Police Agency revealed on May 15 that the North Korean hacking group Lazarus was behind the cyberattack on the South Korean top court’s online network. Police investigations revealed that court data worth 1,014 gigabytes, consisting of highly sensitive information of individuals and companies, were leaked to North Korea from June 2021 to January 2023.