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Cybersecurity News that Matters

North Korean hackers targeting shipbuilding industry, spy agency says

by Dain Oh

Oct. 04, 2023
12:33 PM GMT+9

North Korean hackers have been targeting South Korean shipbuilding industry intensively with an aim to reinforce their maritime force, South Korean intelligence agency revealed on Wednesday.

The National Intelligence Service did not confirm whether the hackers succeeded in stealing industrial secrets, but said they spotted multiple attempts over the last two months.

“North Korean hackers tried to circumvent their target systems’ security by occupying third-party vendors while distributing phishing emails to internal employees of the targeted companies,” the spy agency disclosed in a press release.

The recent hacking attempts appeared to have been initiated by a direct order from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the NIS stated. After returning from a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Kim Jong-un commanded his foreign missions to devote themselves to building warships, according to several news outlets which covered the second Putin-Kim Summit.

South Korea is one of the two largest shipbuilding nations, competing with China. According to a report by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, South Korea clinched 37% of the global orders last year, increasing its market share by 4%p. As for high-value vessels, such as large-scale LNG carriers, South Korean shipbuilders topped the global orders, accounting for 70% of the entire market share.

The NIS notified the targeted companies of the ongoing hacking attempts by North Korean hackers and supported security measures against them. In addition, the agency asked the nation’s major shipbuilding companies to review their security postures internally.

“Hacking attempts towards the shipbuilding industry are expected to continue,” South Korean intelligence agency warned relevant parties. “Security inspection on network and remote access software should be followed as well as paying attention to original sources of emails and websites,” added the agency.


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  • Dain Oh
    : Author

    Dain Oh is a distinguished journalist based in South Korea, recognized for her exceptional contributions to the field. As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Readable, she has demonstrated her expe...

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