Hackers' warfareDate: September 18, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
In North Korea's mountainous Hyungsan region, a military academy specializing in electronic warfare has been churning out 100 cybersoldiers every year for nearly two decades. Graduates of the elite hacking program at Mirim College are skilled in everything from writing computer viruses to penetrating network defenses and programming weapon guidance systems. Yet Pentagon and State Department officials say they are unable to confirm South Korea's claims that Mirim or any other North Korean hacker academy even exists. And some U.S. defense experts accuse South Korea of hyping the cyber threat posed by its northern neighbour, which they claim is incapable of seriously disrupting the U.S. military.
Representatives of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, as well as its Institute for Defense Analyses and Information Security Agency, did not respond to requests for more information about Mirim College or North Korea's information warfare capability. In its 2000 annual report, South Korea's Ministry of National Defense said a 5 percent budget increase was allocated mainly for projects such as "the buildup of the core capability needed for coping with advanced scientific and information warfare." The report also revealed that South Korea's military has 177 "computer training facilities" and had trained more than 200,000 "information technicians." Meanwhile, in North Korea the lack of basic necessities, such as a reliable electrical grid, presents huge obstacles to creating an information-technology infrastructure, according to Peter Hayes, executive director of the Nautilus Institute, which published a recent study of North Korea's IT aspirations.
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