Sunday, July 16, 2006

North Korea's Cyber Warfare Unit 121

In a previous post, "Who's Who in Cyber Warfare" I commented on a very informative research on the topic, and pointed out that :

"Technology as the next Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) was inevitable development, what's important to keep in mind is knowing who's up to what, what are the foundations of their military thinking, as well as who's copying attitude from who. Having the capacity to wage offensive and defense cyber warfare is getting more important, still, military thinkers of certain countries find network centric warfare or total renovation of C4I communications as the panacea when dealing with their about to get scraped conventional weaponry systems. Convergence represents countless opportunities for waging Cyber Warfare, offensive one as well, as I doubt there isn't a country working on defensive projects."

Recently, there's been some movement from North Korea's Cyber Warfare unit 121, one that :

"North Korea set up about eight years ago with some 1,000 personnel, said the intelligence official, who declined to be named because it was the agency's policy to remain anonymous. The North's operation, called unit 121, "has hacked into the South Korean and U.S. Defense Department" and has caused much damage in the South, the official said without elaborating."

According to numerous articles on recent "anomalies" at unclassified U.S state department systems, these might actually have to do with the group's actions itself -- quite a momentum to take advantage of, isn't it? Any country's interest in establishing cyber war forces shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. But while North Korea is trying to balance its military powers through asymmetric and cyber warfare approaches given its outdated conventional weaponry thinking, I feel the real beast to worry about is China, who's sneakily hiding behind its currently strategic economic position. As the latest report on "Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2006" points out :

"The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has established information warfare units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems and networks, and tactics and measures to protect friendly computer systems and networks."

Taiwan is reasonably taking note on China's historical cyber warfare actions and has recently initiated its first cyber war game simulating attack from China :

"The drill, part of the island's annual major war game Hankuang No. 22, was held Wednesday and Thursday to intercept, block and counter a possible Chinese cyber attack of Taiwan's major computer network to paralyze the island's intranet operation, the Central News Agency quoted an unnamed defence source as saying."

Let's don't forget the use and abuse of island hopping points fueling further tensions in key regions and abusing the momentum itself, physically locating a network device in the future IPv6 network space is of key interest to all parties.

War room courtesy of Northrop Grumman.

Related resources:
Information Warfare
Cyber Warfare