North Korea operates a cyber warfare unit that seeks to disrupt South Korean and U.S. military networks and visits U.S. military sites more frequently than any other country, intelligence sources in Seoul said Tuesday.
The General Staff of the North's Korean People's Army has been operating for years a "technology reconnaissance team," which is exclusively in charge of collecting information and disrupting military computer networks in South Korea and the U.S., Yonhap News Agency said, quoting the anonymous sources.
Roughly 100 hackers, mostly graduates of a leading military academy in Pyongyang, work on the team, hacking into South Korean and U.S. computer networks, withdrawing classified information and establishing combat simulations, they said.
"This unit tries to take control of South Korean and U.S. military information system by hacking into their computer networks and taking out classified data. When necessary, they may spread computer viruses to disrupt the networks," one of the sources was quoted as saying.
After years of tracking which countries access U.S. military Web sites and networks, the U.S. military has found that users inside North Korea logged on most frequently.
The North Korean unit has also set up simulated war training software and extensive data on South Korean high-ranking military personnel, according to the sources.
South Korea and the U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding on April 30 to bolster cooperation in fighting cyber terrorism against their defense networks.
The U.S. maintains 28,500 troops in the South as a deterrent against North Korea.