After Sony, North Korean hackers waiting for another big shot in 2020?

North Korean hackers allegedly targetted Sony in 2014 but now the question is whether they will make another big move in 2020

It was in October 2014, when all the media channels and newspapers were filled with one particular story, the cyberattack on Sony Pictures. The hackers who launched the attack stole almost over 100 TB of confidential documents from the Hollywood studio and posted them online.

The intention was to expose every detail in front of everyone, from potential cybercriminals to journalists who analyse data and made reports on that information related to film production.

What happened with Sony

While further reports stated that US government and FBI claimed the North Korean hackers are behind this attack, due to a controversial action-comedy movie, "The Interview", which showed the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, security companies had denied the allegation.

Sam Glines from the cybersecurity firm Norse Corporation told CNN, "It's clear to us based on both forensic and other evidence that we have collected that they are not responsible for orchestrating or initiating the attack on Sony."

After the attack on Sony, the security companies like Norse Corporation and Cloud Flare raised questions on FBI's claim that the malware used in Sony attack is similar to the one used in other attacks by North Korea. They stated that the malware was leaked a long time ago which means it could have been used by hackers anywhere in the world.

After conducting further investigation, it was revealed that a woman code-named Lina, who was a former employee of Sony had a tie with the hacking group called "Guardians of Peace" which took the responsibility for the attack.

The woman had the superuser access to Sony's cyber secrets, user names and passwords, said the expert from the security company. However, experts expressed doubts about North Korea's ability to conduct such a sophisticated cyberattack as they claimed that it was beyond their skill level. Analysts claimed that the if North Korea was responsible then they might have done this by a shadowy group of the government.

Cyber Security
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Recent attacks by North Korean hackers

Whether they were behind the Sony hit or not, as per the reports till 2019, there were several cybersecurity incidents which were conducted by North Koreans hacking groups.

Just after the Sony incident, in 2015 another attack took place on the Central Bank of Bangladesh, which was claimed as one of the most sensational attacks linked to North Korean hackers. After this attack, the hacking group made off with $81 million.

In 2018, India's Cosmos Bank was hacked to the tune of $13.5 million and as per the reports, the culprits were hackers from North Korea who again infiltrated the Bank of Chile's ATM network and siphoned off $10 million. As mentioned by Security Company Group-IB in 2017 the North Korean hackers were responsible for around 65 percent of all crypto exchange hacks.

North Korean hackers in 2019

Recently it was revealed that North Korea-based Lazarus targeted India's space agency, ISRO around the time of its Chandrayaan-2 lunar landing mission as well as Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), located in southern India.

Earlier this year a cyberattack was launched targeting Hungarian Development Center (MFK) and it was so damaging that the authority was forced to reorganize its administration from scratch. Soon it was revealed that hackers most likely originated from North Korea.

Tokyo Olympics will be a target?

Olympic City
Olympic Pixabay

It should not be forgotten that during the Winter Olympics 2018, which took place in South Korea, a cyberattack was conducted and the usual suspect was North Korea. However, Japan's cybersecurity has been put to a test over the 18 months before the Tokyo Olympics.

This measure was taken as the organizers realized that cyber defences will need to be strong enough to keep attackers out and resilient enough to restore systems if things go wrong. Whether the North Korean hackers will target this 2020 event or not, analyzing the history of cyber threats on Olympic events, it is ideal to take proper measures.

This article was first published on December 29, 2019
Related topics : Cybersecurity