North Korea has hundreds of well-trained cyber soldiers and its intelligence warfare capabilities are believed to have reached the level of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a South Korean arms expert said yesterday.
Computers are a rarity and Internet access is almost nonexistent for most people in the reclusive country, but Byun Jae-jung, researcher at a state-run Agency for Defense Development, believes that "North Korea is capable of cyber attacks on both the command and control system of the U.S. Pacific Command and the critical infrastructures of the U.S. mainland, such as electric power."
"Our electronic warfare simulation indicates that North Korea`s capability has reached a substantial level, unlike what is generally known to the outside world," Byun told the Defense Information Security Conference 2005 held yesterday at Korea University in Seoul. The conference is organized annually by the Defense Security Command and the Korea Information Security Agency. He said the simulation was based on reliable information from the DSC, but refused to give any details.
According to him, the communist country since 1981 has been training about 100 hackers through an elite electronic warfare academy known as Mirim College and now operates a crack contingent of 500 or 600 cyber soldiers. The academy is believed to have changed its name from Mirim to Kim Il Military Academy and then to Pyongyang College.
The North Korean hackers use Web servers from various countries, including the United States, to gather military information on South Korea, the United States and others and erode the online defense command network, he added.
"The South Korean government spends only 2.5 percent of its information-related budget on information protection while the United States invests 8.8 percent," Byun said.
By Lee Sun-young