To say that North Korea is a rogue state, ruled by a maniacal dictator, who’s known to have ‘traitors’ killed on a whim by either feeding them to dogs or shooting them down with anti-aircraft guns, would be nothing out of the ordinary.
Guess the next country North Korea is trying to direct its mischief at? I’ll give you some time to think.
In an international cyber threat report published earlier this week, which analysed the secretive Korean nation’s online activity, North Korea’s cyber stance against the Indian Space Research Organisation’s National Remote Sensing Centre, and the Indian National Metallurgical Laboratory’s facilities is cause for major concern.
Recorded Future (the guys who conducted the report) tracked outbound Internet traffic from North Korea between April 1 to July 6 this year, and they found an interesting trend. Where in the past suspicious cyber attacks like the Sony hack of 2014 have originated from North Korea, during the report’s time frame there was next to no malicious cyber activity from the North Korean mainland. This is especially surprising because, during the same time, North Korea was in a heightened state of alert with extensive missile testing.
“This likely indicates,” the report argues, “They (North Korea) are not using territorial resources to conduct cyber operations and that most state-sponsored activity is perpetrated from abroad.”
From places like India?
What’s clear from the report is that despite tough sanctions and massive international pressure, North Korea’s leaders aren’t isolated from the outside world. Not in the least bit. And that North Korean presence (both physical and virtual) exists in several nations around the world. Nations from where North Koreans are likely engaging in malicious cyber and criminal activities, argues the report. India is part of this group of nations, as mentioned in the report, which also includes countries like Malaysia, New Zealand, Nepal, Kenya, Mozambique, and Indonesia.
Other major revelations from the report mention that “North Korea has a broad physical and virtual presence in India.” North Korea may also have students enrolled in at least seven universities in the country, and that nearly 20% of all suspicious North Korean activity was focused only on India, during the time frame of this analysis.
But this is where the report sends alarm bells ringing. It seems some North Korean users were conducting research, or possibly even network reconnaissance (or spying), on a number of foreign laboratories and research centers — including some present in India, the report argues, where “activity targeting the Indian Space Research Organization’s National Remote Sensing Centre, and the Indian National Metallurgical Laboratory raised flags of suspicion.”
How are bilateral relations between India and North Korea?
According to this 2015 statement from our own government’s Ministry of External Affairs…