By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Oct. 12, 2023 9:22PM GMT+9
Seoul ― KACS 2023 Fall Conference ― Russia and North Korea could seek to expand their ties in cyberspace as the two countries pledged to boost defense cooperation, according to a foreign policy professional on Wednesday.
Jang Se-ho, an expert on Russia with the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS), urged South Korea to be aware of a possible partnership between the two authoritarian countries in the cyber domain during the fall conference hosted by the Korean Association of Cybersecurity Studies (KACS) on October 11. “There are much talk surrounding how far Russia and North Korea’s cooperation could go,” said Jang to the fellow participants. “It seems that several opportunities could be opening in the cyber sector as well.”
In a report titled “The Aspect of Russia’s Cyberattack during the Russia-Ukraine War and its Implications to South Korea’s Cybersecurity”, Jang stated that the two isolated countries sought close solidarity as they converged strategic interests after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un held a summit on September 13 and vowed greater cooperation on military and security issues. According to foreign news outlets, the meeting did not lead to any agreements being signed.
Jang described a number of scenarios in which the two neighboring nations might collaborate to one another’s benefit. “Multiple shreds of evidence are emerging on North Korea’s attempts to launder their illicit gains through Russian cryptocurrency exchanges,” said Jang. “This means that stolen cryptocurrencies are being monetarized through Russia. As this might become a bigger problem, we should be extremely watchful of how this progresses.”
Jang also mentioned that, due to Russia and North Korea being in this relationship, Russia will be more likely to overlook North Korean cyberattacks on their nuclear and missile technologies. However, Jang explained to The Readable that taking this course of action would place a tremendous burden on Russia who, as a permanent member nation of the UN Security Council, has pledged to respect and uphold international agreements on nuclear nonproliferation. According to an exclusive report from Reuters in August, North Korean cyber espionage groups secretly broke into the computer networks of a major Russian missile developer last year.
“Russia has little to gain by cooperating with North Korea on cyber. However, Russia is looking at the much bigger picture,” Jang asserted to The Readable. “They can nevertheless use the fact that they are on friendly terms with one another against South Korea and the U.S, who themselves, along with Japan, are tightening their own security operations.”
This article was copyedited by Arthur Gregory Willers.
Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.