North Korean Hackers Could Weaken US Pacific Command

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A cyberattack by North Koreans could potentially knock out the computer network for the US Pacific Command, warned a report issued out by a South Korean state-run agency.

According to a report by the South Korean Defence Agency for Technology and Quality (DATQ), North Korea’s cyber warfare specialists could “paralyze” the networks for the U.S. Pacific Command’s control center and cripple parts of the U.S. power grid.

Pyongyang has around 6,800 cyber warfare specialists, according to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense. Some experts believe the North could have as many as 30,000 hackers in its employ.

"The enemy (North Korea) will seek to disable our cyber capacity at a critical point via an all-out cyberattack. ... It is crucial (for South Korea) to establish an asymmetrical cyber warfare capacity to overwhelm that of the North," the report said.

North Korea has been the primary suspect in a number of cyber attacks in recent years.

Local cyber expert Lim Jong In, a professor at the graduate school of information security at Korea University, said cyber terrorism appeals to poorer countries like North Korea, as it can be done on a relatively small budget but still has a large impact.

Cyber tension between North and South have recently escalated, amid a wave of allegations and cyberattacks.

The South Korean military reported that its cyber command, a division set up to prevent hacking, was breached by North Korea earlier this month. Over a period of several years, North Korea hacked into over 140,000 computers and breached the security systems of more than 160 South Korean firms and government agencies.

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