SEOUL, Jan. 3 (UPI) — North Korean hackers have been launching cyberattacks against the South, using malicious codes included in an emailed distribution of Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, according to a South Korean press report.
A South Korean cybersecurity expert with a military background told local news service Daily NK the hacking attempt was made Monday, a day after Kim delivered the televised speech.
The email was made to appear as if it were sent from a South Korean government agency, and the subject line read, “Korea Institute for National Unification research academy.”
KINU is a think tank funded by Seoul.
The message included an attachment titled, “Analysis of North Korea’s New Year’s speech 2017,” and the word file contained a malicious code, the South Korean source said.
If the harmful computer code is downloaded, the system is compromised and hackers gain control and access to servers.
The damage the code does, however, may be limited since South Korean government and institutional servers are notified if an infection does take place.
More complete control takes place, however, after the hacker sends individual files to infected personal computers following the first attack, according to the report.
The expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the files might have already infected some computers, including those belonging to staff members of Seoul’s unification ministry.
The computer breach may also be retaliation against the South after former North Korean diplomat Thae Yong Ho gave a press conference in December, the analyst said.