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North Korean hackers have tried to breach the US power companies, report says

Power Grid (Oran Viriyincy/Flickr)
October 12, 2017

North Korean hackers have targeted U.S. electrical power companies with spearphishing emails, according to NBC News, which exclusively obtained a report from the cybersecurity company FireEye.

Spearphishing is an email scam that targets individuals and organizations, and it is often for the purposes of stealing data for malicious reasons. Cyber criminals might also want to install malware, or software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems, on the user’s computer.

In the report, FireEye said that the phishing emails “used fake invitations to a fundraiser to target victims,” NBC reported.

“A victim who downloaded the invitation attached to the email would also be downloading malware into his or her computer network, according to the FireEye report,” NBC said, adding that FireEye “did not dispute NBC’s characterization of the report, but declined to comment.”

“There is no evidence that the hacking attempts were successful, but FireEye assessed that the targeting of electric utilities could be related to increasing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, potentially foreshadowing a disruptive cyberattack,” NBC reported.

Screen Shot 2017 10 12 at 10.49.26 AM - North Korean hackers have tried to breach the US power companies, report says

North Korean hackers (Twitter)

This comes after another report of North Korean hackers who allegedly gained access to U.S.-South Korean wartime plans, including one that would call for the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has likely already foiled the United States and South Korea’s plans to take out Kim Jong Un, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, as North Korean hackers have stolen hundreds of gigabytes of military documents, including the plans to take out dictator Kim Jong Un.

Yonhap reported Tuesday that South Korean Democratic Party Rep. Lee Cheol-hee said hackers have stolen “a large amount of classified military documents” – 235 gigabytes worth – including the so-named “decapitation plan.”

The hackers breached South Korea’s Defense Integrated Data Center last September, Cheol-hee told Yonhap, and stole the classified, secret files that included Operational Plans 5015 and 3100.

According to Yonhap: “OPLAN 5015 is the latest Seoul-Washington scheme to handle an all-out war with Pyongyang, which reportedly contains detailed procedures to ‘decapitate’ the North Korean leadership. OPLAN 3100 is Seoul’s plan to respond to the North’s localized provocations.”

Most of the stolen data, about 80 percent, has yet to be identified, Cheol-hee said, adding that: “The Ministry of National Defense has yet to find out about the content of 182 gigabytes of the total (stolen) data.”

Yonhap pointed out that there was a report of potential hacking of the defense ministry in May.