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US possesses capabilities to counter cyber attacks: Pentagon

John Kirby, spokesman for the US Department of Defense, is seen answering questions at a press briefing at the Defense Department in Washington on Monday, in this image captured from the department's website. (Defense Department in Washington)
John Kirby, spokesman for the US Department of Defense, is seen answering questions at a press briefing at the Defense Department in Washington on Monday, in this image captured from the department's website. (Defense Department in Washington)
WASHINGTON -- The United States maintains and continues to advance its capabilities to counter any cyber attacks from countries such as China and North Korea, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

John Kirby made the remarks as the US, along with a long list of its allies including the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, called out China as a state sponsor of malicious cyber activities. accusing China's Ministry of State Security of hiring contract criminal hackers to carry out both "state-sponsored activities and cyber crime for their own financial gain."

"We are very confident that we have significant cyber capability, and those capabilities continue to advance every year," the Defense Department spokesman said when asked about US cyber capabilities.

"I believe the (defense) secretary is very comfortable ... and he remains very impressed by the capability that we have in the cyber realm," added Kirby.

Kirby refused to discuss specific details when asked about possible collaboration between Chinese and North Korean actors in China, only reiterating that his country has enough capabilities to counter cyber attacks.

"With respect to cyber security, we have a range of capabilities that are at our disposal to do that (counter attacks)," he said.

He also noted the Department of Defense is "part of the interagency discussion about how to respond to cyber attacks and how to become more resilient as a government, as a society."

North Korea is said to have up to 6,000 trained hackers who are based in other countries, mostly in China, to avoid being tracked back to their homeland.

The US has said North Korea stands out as an "unique" country among countries that pose a threat to cyber security in that the impoverished country has largely sought to steal money through its cyber activities.

A group of three North Korean actors was brought to the United States this year to face trial on charges of attempting to steal some $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrency from foreign banks and businesses between 2014 and 2018. (Yonhap)
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