South Korea warns Asean of cyber attacks by North Korea

KUALA LUMPUR: South Korea has issued a warning to Asean countries, including Malaysia, to be vigilant of cyber attacks launched by North Korea.

Korean Foreign Affairs Ministry director-general of the Korean Peninsula Peace Regime Burueau, Chun Young-Hee, alleged that Pyongyang has stolen US$1.2 billion in cryptocurrencies since 2017, with US$626 million stolen throughout last year alone. He also alleged that North Korea stole US$620 million through online game hacking in March last year.

This is bigger that North Korea's exports, which were estimated at US$82 million in 2021.

"North Korea sources for money through illegal activities, including cyber attacks, which is used to to fund their nuclear programmes," he said in a roundtable discussion here today.

He added that well-trained hackers from North Korea used email phishing and ransomware attacks to steal the funds from other countries.

South Korea is spreading awareness of such activities to combat cyber attacks, he said.

However, he added that the nullification of cyber threats could not be done by government-to-government efforts alone, but also required the cooperation of private entities who will be severely affected by the attacks.

He said South Korea has been working closely with technology experts in United States, and called on other countries to join efforts to cripple North Korea's ambition to accelerate its nuclear programme.

"We hope Malaysia can send a strong message to North Korea to abandon their nuclear programme and return to the negotiation table for a peaceful resolution."

Meanwhile, he said that South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's visit to Japan later this week would also see further discussion on inter-Korean related issues.

He said Japan was also concerned over North Korea's development of its nuclear weapon programme and launching of missiles.

"Japan understands that they are vulnerable to threats from North Korea as well. So we often talk on this matter."

Also present at the roundtable discussion was Korean Embassy minister-counsellor Dong Jo Kim.

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