North Korean Hackers Could Disable US Pacific Command: Report

By | Dec 30, 2016 06:29 PM EST
A South Korean hacking student

South Korea is building its own cyber team to counter threats from the North.(Photo : Getty Images)

A North Korea-initiated full scale cyber attack could potentially paralyze the US Pacific Command control centre (US PACOM), according to a report issued by the South Korean Defence Agency for Technology and Quality (DATQ).

The state-run agency is warning that North Korea's growing cyber capabilities have the potential to cause widespread damage to the US military and critical infrastructure.

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A recent simulation conducted by the Pentagon showed that a targeted and large-scale cyber attack initiated by North Korean-sponsored hackers could potentially cripple the US PACOM and also simultaneously cause massive damage to the American power grid.

"The enemy (North Korea) will seek to disable our cyber capacity at a critical point via an all-out cyber attack. It is crucial (for South Korea) to establish an asymmetrical cyber warfare capacity to overwhelm that of the North," the report said.

The report also revealed that North Korea's hacking abilities have gained notoriety among cyber security experts. In 2013, a mass hacking hit three major banks and major broadcasters in South Korea, successfully infecting an estimated 48,000 computers with malware.

Cyber tensions between the North and South Korea have recently escalated. South Korea recently accused the North of attacking its military cyber command, an allegation that was dismissed by Pyongyang's official state media, calling it a 'childish plot' by Seoul to shift focus from the country's political uncertainties.

The South Korean Defense Ministry said that North Korea has an estimated 6,800 cyber warriors who have extensive experience in hacking protocols. However, some experts put the number to as high as 30,000.

There have been reports that South Korea is working on building its own cyber army. The two nations are said to have specialist cyber units that can counter threats or launch offensive attacks of their own.

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