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NK is key cyberthreat: US Homeland Security

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (KCNA-Yonhap)

The United States is closely monitoring risks to global supply chains from cyberattacks by North Korea and other countries amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, US Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said Tuesday.

“I talked a lot about nation state threats, and how those manifest different ways whether it’s China, Iran, or everything in between, North Korea. From a cyber perspective, we’re very concerned about that,” he said at a US Chamber of Commerce event.

He said the country’s adversaries were testing to see whether the US was paying attention, so it should take counterterrorism seriously.

The advice from the anti-terrorism department chief came a month after his office warned that North Korea was relying on various forms of cyberattacks to fund its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, in a report jointly issued by the State Department, the Treasury Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

US Rep. James Langevin, who serves on the Committee of Armed Services, voiced similar concerns, saying North Korea was one of the top four countries posing cyberthreats, with Russia, China and Iran being the other three.

“North Korea has invested heavily in disruptive and mine and offensive cyber capabilities as of Russia, China, Iran as well as other nations,” he told the Voice of America at a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday.

Langevin suggested exhausting “all assets of national power,” such as indictments and sanctions, to counter malign cyber activities. In 2018, the US government indicted an alleged member of the Lazarus Group, and in March this year it sanctioned two others it accused of money laundering through cryptocurrency trading.

The group’s mastermind has yet to be revealed, but the cybercrime ring is reportedly linked to North Korea.

Also at the forum, Suzanne Spaulding, a former undersecretary for the Homeland Security Department, said policymakers should look into a variety of factors when drawing up countermeasures against North Korean cyberthreats.

“There’s not going to be a comprehensive strategy that’s going to deter them all. North Korea is driven by different motivations. It can be leveraged in different ways than Russia or China,” she said.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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