Although the FBI has accused North Korea of perpetrating the recent Sony hacks, the North Korean government has denied all allegations.
Whether North Korea did it or not, there’s no denying that they have one of the strongest cyber warfare capabilities in the world. With nearly 1,800 cyber warriors, North Korea is estimated to have the world’s third-largest cyber warfare force behind Russia and the US.
But what really gives North Korean hackers an edge over other countries may be what many consider to be their biggest weakness: its poor internet infrastructure.
According to China’s IT Times Weekly, North Korean hackers are able to attack countries with advanced IT networks, like South Korea or the US, at will, without the fear of losing much in retaliation. Since North Korea’s infrastructure is so weak, it makes it hard for other countries to attack their network — and even if they did, there’s not much do be gained, it says.
This point was stressed in a recent security research report by HP: “Because North Korea has few internet connections to the outside world, anyone seeking intelligence on North Korea’s networks has to expend more resources for cyber reconnaissance.”
It adds, quoting a North Korean defector and former computer science professor Kim Heung-kwang, “Considering the separatist nature of North Korea’s infrastructure, cyber warfare provides a strategic advantage since outbound attacks are possible, but inbound attacks would have limited reach.”
The report also says, citing South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, that North Korea’s hacker forces may have upgraded to almost 5,900 in July 2014.
Here’s a photo that gives you some idea how bad the IT infrastructure is in North Korea is. This is a satellite picture of city lights at night. The right side is South Korea. The dark area is North Korea. With electricity so scarce, internet access is a luxury.
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