Defector Says U.S. Has Been Targeted for Years
North Korea continues to make headlines worldwide with the rogue regime's threats of nuclear war against the U.S., even while it moves ballistic missiles toward the coastline. But some are warning of a more sinister, unconventional method of warfare: cyber attacks. A person who defected from North Korea in 2008 recently told the U.K. Guardian/Observer that the North has been preparing an attack on U.S. computer systems since the 1990s, and they could be looking to do so again. The North is suspected in recent cyber attacks on South Korean banks and broadcasters, but whether any such attempt on the U.S. would be successful is up for debate. For now, the defector only called such an attack "a possibility."
Terrorism experts here in the U.S. think a North Korean cyber attack is not only plausible, but likely. "The North Koreans have been preparing for this for a long time," says Jeffrey Addicott from the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University in Texas. "Their ally China boasted it is going to win a cyber war, so I would not be surprised if the North Koreans decide to engage in such an attack." He tells KTRH that type of attack would be carefully targeted. "Some type of a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure, which means critical areas of our society like the energy sector, hospital sector, financial sector."
North Korea's military and cyber capabilities are still largely unknown because of the isolated and secretive nature of the regime. Christopher Bronk, an IT expert from the Baker Institute at Rice University, says an unconventional attack would be consistent with the North's shadowy past behavior. "Cyber, another area which is hard to attribute, is a very natural fit for the M.O. of the North Korean government," he tells KTRH. Bronk isn't sure if North Korea has the ability to attack U.S. cyber centers on its own, but the regime has some dangerous allies. "I've heard reports recently about North Korean officials or their proxies working with cyber criminals in Eastern Europe, like Russian cyber crime networks," he says. "That nexus does concern me a great deal."