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Government Programming Security IT Politics

North Korean Defector Spills Details On the Country's Elite Hacking Force 166

mattydread23 writes Business Insider interviewed Jang Se-yul, a North Korean defector who trained in the country's Mirim University alongside some of the hackers who make up its elite Bureau 121 hacking squad. He explains how they train: 'They take six 90-minute classes every day, learning different coding languages and operating systems, from C to Linux. Jang says a lot of time was spent dissecting Microsoft programs, like the Windows operating system, and how to attack the overall computer IT systems of enemy countries like the U.S. or South Korea.' He also explains that these hackers are among the elite in North Korea, and even though they have unfiltered information about the outside world that their countrymen lack, most of them would never dream of leaving. (See also this story from earlier this month about the life of North Korea's elite hackers.)
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North Korean Defector Spills Details On the Country's Elite Hacking Force

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well that's quite the range.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't believe you! I definitely think this hack was an inside job.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      those stories are so hilarious. Best thing is they keep coming and the get funnier.

      Obviously most Americans dont remember the non existent WMD in Iraq. Well its the same thing. NK had nothing to do with the Sony debacle.

      • I think you overestimate how much Americans care about this.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        those stories are so hilarious. Best thing is they keep coming and the get funnier.

        Obviously most Americans dont remember the non existent WMD in Iraq. Well its the same thing. NK had nothing to do with the Sony debacle.

        Let's not also forget, defectors are great at telling their latest new best friends exactly what their latest new best friends want to hear...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually there were WMD's in Iraq
        http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/14/world/middleeast/us-casualties-of-iraq-chemical-weapons.html?_r=0

    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      I don't believe you! I definitely think this hack was an inside job.

      Yeah, and global warming is faked by the left wing media, and vaccines are poison, and municipal water flouridation is a communist plot. Oh, and by the way, you don't really believe that you are anonymous here on /., do you?

      • Re:Sorry media (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Thursday December 25, 2014 @03:48PM (#48673029)

        Yeah, and global warming is faked by the left wing media, and vaccines are poison, and municipal water flouridation is a communist plot. Oh, and by the way, you don't really believe that you are anonymous here on /., do you?

        Doubting the official line on the Sony hack is hardly the stuff of tinfoil-hat denialism. How's this for a scenario: (1) Garden-variety haxx0rz and/or a disgruntled employee steal a bunch of embarrassing files from Sony -- plenty of motive there -- and dump the files on the web. (2) Some moron in the media starts speculating that it has something to do with an idiotic movie about North Korea, and the echo chamber amplifies it as truth. (3) Haxx0rz, sensing an epic opportunity for lulz, play along with the feeding frenzy in the media with some crazy threats against screening the movie, then sit back and watch the fun as paranoia in the FBI and mindless nationalism in the population do the rest of their work for them.

        Couldn't be.

        • Yeah, and global warming is faked by the left wing media, and vaccines are poison, and municipal water flouridation is a communist plot. Oh, and by the way, you don't really believe that you are anonymous here on /., do you?

          Doubting the official line on the Sony hack is hardly the stuff of tinfoil-hat denialism. How's this for a scenario: (1) Garden-variety haxx0rz and/or a disgruntled employee steal a bunch of embarrassing files from Sony -- plenty of motive there -- and dump the files on the web. (2) Some moron in the media starts speculating that it has something to do with an idiotic movie about North Korea, and the echo chamber amplifies it as truth. (3) Haxx0rz, sensing an epic opportunity for lulz, play along with the feeding frenzy in the media with some crazy threats against screening the movie, then sit back and watch the fun as paranoia in the FBI and mindless nationalism in the population do the rest of their work for them.

          Couldn't be.

          What if you substituted the presidents name for that of NK? Would that go well with Americans? I bet it will go very very well with Arab countries and in those countries where American Companies (United Fruit, et. al) exploited those countries for their wealth. I bet the foreign country gets only 2% of the benefit and the Corp and bribes get the rest.

        • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

          Fair point, but you left out:
          1a) Sony executive is faced with having to go to the press with "some teenagers completely destroyed our market cap and the stockholders probably should sack me for allowing it to happen" or "the US was the victim of a major cyber warfare attack by North Korea, and Sony got caught in the crossfire - I'm a patriot for promoting an anti-NK film when I'm not busy playing accounting games with movie revenues to avoid taxes and paying my employees."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    [...] these hackers are all aware of what’s going on in the outside world and how reclusive their country is — but they still won’t leave their country. “No matter how hard you try to convince them, they won’t leave [...]

    Communist "loyalty" exam: do you love your family?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Also, what's in it for them if they did defect - they'd probably end up working for the NSA targetting the same people and institutions as before.

    • The elites don't leave, their life abroad would be as a common worker and the "Party" would work hard to make sure they don't "live long and prosper".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Might as well have them permanently DDOS'd.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday December 25, 2014 @10:09AM (#48672145)

    During the Cold War, how many KGB agents and upper level apparatchiks had unfiltered access to the West and yet stayed?

    Love of County is a very powerful emotion, and elitist snobs who dismiss it can not understand a whole panoply of human motivations.

    • Love of Country sure is much easier if you're part of the nobility. Actually, fuck the country, but as long as it makes my life pleasurable at the expense of the 99% of the rest, what's not to love?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Didn't you just describe the Wall St mentality?

      • This!!! If they get to live almost like Kim Jong Un, what incentive is there for them to go to China, Russia, US or anywhere else?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tentative ( 3404075 )
      It's not just country, you know. These people have families they would leave behind at the mercy of their former comrades.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      My country right or wrong.

      Often misunderstood because people don't remeber the other part of the quote

      My country right or wrong. If right to be kept right. If wrong to be put right. (paraphased - Christmas morning no time or will to find the exact wording)

      I love my country but I would not love a system that hurts my fellow citizens and I would fight to make my country right in that circumstance.

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      its not love of country, its love of being more powerful than others in your country. These people get treated special, they get special privileges, they get news stories around the globe, and if they left ... well they wouldn't get any of that

    • Don't forget the "..if you defect, we will imprison and torture your entire extended family and anyone you ever smiled at" program.

    • and elitist snobs who dismiss it can not understand a whole panoply of human motivations

      I feel like there's more you want to say here. Who are these "elitist snobs" you're railing against?

    • Let's also not forget "love of pussy" and "love of money". These elites are also often essentially bribed to stay with access to premium housing and often whatever women they want.
  • I bet it's better than this shit Security Course you get at Stanford.
  • by citizenr ( 871508 ) on Thursday December 25, 2014 @10:27AM (#48672189) Homepage

    this is Nayirah al-aba all over again
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    CIA/NSA propaganda machine is in full force. I predict US will be "liberating" north Korea in 2015.

    • I wouldn't bet on it. North Korea wouldn't be able to take us in a conventional war, but they would inflict pretty severe casualties on us and our South Korean allies.

      • You overestimate their abilities. The South Korean army alone could take them on and win if they mobilized. The Norks have utterly obsolete military equipment.

        The problem is it would not happen without large casualties and probably a bombing of Seoul so I doubt they want to do it.

        • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
          Actually, to me it sounds like they pretty much are saying the same thing. NK has no hope of winning, but can blow up a bunch of people in retaliation before they fall.
          • How did we start from someone hacking the network of the distributor of a 3rd rate Xmas-release comedy to apocalyptic throw-downs from a child dictator? This sounds like a South Park episode.
    • The USA doesn't "Liberate" countries with nuclear weapons. Uncle Sam doesn't want to risk getting hurt while taking the other kids lunch money.
    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      this is Nayirah al-aba all over again https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      CIA/NSA propaganda machine is in full force. I predict US will be "liberating" north Korea in 2015.

      You are an idiot, then. NK has very little we want and they are not a real threat as a nation state. No, they are not. There's no profit in fucking with them, and nation states don't go in for terrorism. Despite all the absolutely silly bluster, the Norks aren't going to invite the staggering reprisals that would be sure to follow if they actually carried out a tenth of what they threaten.

    • Seriously? "Insightful" for believing that North Korea doesn't need liberation?
  • by EnsilZah ( 575600 ) <EnsilZah@@@Gmail...com> on Thursday December 25, 2014 @10:45AM (#48672229)

    They forgot to mention how the final test, called the Kobayashi Maru, involves hacking a Gibson by playing tic-tac-toe while receiving a blow job from Jeff Bridges.
    By this point it's not that difficult, because it's Unix and you know this, but making your MacBook interface with the alien computer you built from the schematics sent by Setec Astronomy is a bit of a challenge.
    And of course those who fail will be taken away by agents and made to mow the lawn for the rest of their lives or something.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      And of course those who fail will be taken away by agents and made to mow the lawn for the rest of their lives or something.

      If you're lucky, that might be your fate. If you're unlucky, you still get to spend time with the lawn, but as fertilizer.

  • They take six 90-minute classes every day, learning different coding languages and operating systems, from C to Linux. And no lessons on how to draw a skeleton.
  • Will be to tell everyone about the uber elite, super scary NK hacking force, or we are sending you back.

  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Thursday December 25, 2014 @11:55AM (#48672415)
    In-house technical training available, daily. Unfiltered access to the internet at work. Nearly 100% retention rate. Must be an awesome place to work!
    • but the pay is likely lower then US min wage and how many hours a week are you putting in?

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        From the articles (if they're true), they are treated like rock stars in their country and make more than most people in their country. It doesn't matter how much you make on a world-scale, if I move to Africa with my 'wealth' even though I wouldn't survive more than a few months in the West before being broke, I could probably live there for a decade without working.

      • by sudon't ( 580652 )

        but the pay is likely lower then US min wage and how many hours a week are you putting in?

        Perhaps it's like bartending, where you rely upon tips to make up for low pay? Tips from foreign bank accounts, say. Gotta have some kind of incentive...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bollocks.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What about their Elite Photoshopping Force?

  • I've got bug free Microsoft Software for sale.

    Dirt cheap!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well.

    So who payed this shit 3-million-dollarsUS?-currency

    Oh! it Was YaHoo.

    Now, that explains it all.

    Yahoo can't tell C from A! Or A/UX from Linux. Or FORTRAN from FORT.

    That means that North Korea Government Servers are running A/UX on 68k-based Macintosh with an FPU and a paged memory management unit.

    Splendid. I have enough info the do a nasty, just for shits and giggles.

    Ha ha.

  • Learn from the past. Iraqui defectors swore up and down that there were massive nuclear programs. They were physicists, they were believable, they testified in secret, in public, on TV. None of it mattered, they were proven liars after we invaded.

    Claims from defectors require extraordinary evidence, especially when what's coming out of their mouths is what the government or the intel agencies want to hear.

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