South Korean police are alleging that its neighbor to the north has hacked into over 140,000 computers at various South Korean firms and governmental agencies in an effort to launch a massive cyber attack against the country. Defense-related material was also allegedly stolen, including non-classified F-15 fighter jets’ wings blueprints.
Over 160 South Korean firms and government agencies have been targeted by North Korea whose state-sponsored cyber espionage agents have allegedly hacked into more than 140,000 computers since 2014.
Reuters reported that the hacking attempts were originally detected in February following a breach that led to stolen information from two conglomerates dealing with defense-related material. Despite compromising the targeted servers, cyberespionage hackers took no action, choosing to stay dormant and wait while they continued to compromise other targets ahead of a wider attack, police said.
South Korea’s police cyber investigation unit added:
There is a high possibility that the North aimed to cause confusion on a national scale by launching a simultaneous attack after securing many targets of cyber terror, or intended to continuously steal industrial and military secrets.
The stolen documents included blueprints of the wings of F-15 fighter jets, a South Korean official told the publication. Notably, 40,000 of the 42,000 stolen materials were defense-related.
The two conglomerates are rumored to be the Hanjin and SK groups, according to South Korean media. Spokesmen from both firms have confirmed the breach while adding that none of the leaked documents from their networks were classified.
Furthermore, a Defense Ministry official stated that the stolen defense-related materials were not classified nor secretive.
The originating IP address from where the hacking took place was traced back to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city. Interestingly, the IP address was identical to another used during a 2013 cyber attack against South Korean banks and broadcasting services. The infamous cyber attack crippled computer systems for over a week. While South Korea has frequently pointed the finger at North Korea, the latter has always denied responsibility for all attacks.