North Korea has nearly doubled the number of elite hackers over the past two years in an effort to step up cyberattacks, military sources said Sunday.
"North Korea appears to have some 5,900 personnel for cyberwarfare, up from around 3,000 two years ago," a military source said.
"The communist country operates a hacking unit under its General Bureau of Reconnaissance, which is home to some 1,200 professional hackers," he said, noting that they have been carrying out cyberattacks by establishing overseas bases in countries such as China.
While the United States has about 80,000 people in its cyberoperations units, North Korea outnumbers both the U.S. and Japan in terms of the number of elite hackers, another source said.
The U.S. has 900, while Japan has 90, according to the source.
Experts say the communist country has been trying to boost its cyberwarfare capabilities as part of its unconventional arsenal.
North Korea has fostered some 100 cyberwarriors per year through training at Mirim University, founded in 1986 upon the instruction of its former leader, Kim Jong-il, and Moranbong University, which was set up in 1990, has been in charge of training professional hackers.
North Korea's cyberattacks have often targeted the websites of South Korean government offices, as well as local banks and media outlets. In response, the south launched the Cyber Command, which has some 400 personnel, to guard against such aggressions online. (Yonhap)