McAfee: Hackers spent four years spying on South Korea
Posted on 9 Jul 2013 at 09:24
A mysterious group of computer hackers has spent four years spying on the South Korea military, according to McAfee, citing evidence uncovered from malicious software samples.
The findings were not confirmed by authorities in Seoul.
McAfee did not identify a sponsor for the attacks but said they were carried out by hackers known as the New Romanic Cyber Army Team. Seoul has blamed North Korea for some of the attacks although Pyongyang denies responsibility and says it too has been a victim.
Officials at the South Korean Embassy in Washington were not immediately available for comment. A Pentagon spokesman said he was unaware of McAfee's findings and declined comment.
Experts with Symantec, another security software maker, last month definitively linked the four-year string of attacks to a single group of hackers. The attacks hit government and corporate computers.
Find out moreBest paid for security suites for 2013
McAfee released a paper analysing the code of the software used by those hackers.
It said the hacking gang infected PCs with sophisticated software that automatically sought out documents of interest by scanning computers for military keywords in English and Korean.
Once the software identified documents of interest, it encrypted those files then delivered them to the hackers' servers, McAfee said.
The paper also described in detail how the attackers siphoned data from infected computers using a botnet.
McAfee named the attacks "Operation Troy", because the word Troy frequently appeared in the code of the malicious software. The New Romanic Cyber Army Team makes frequent use of Roman and classical terms in its code.
On 4 July 2009, it launched its first significant attack, unleashing malicious software that wiped data on PCs and also disrupted some government and business websites in South Korea and the US.
In March, the gang knocked tens of thousands of PCs offline at South Korean companies by destroying data on their hard drives. It was one of the most destructive attacks against private computer networks to date.
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- The key to choosing a secure password
- Please stop reposting fake Facebook messages
- Is Facebook safe for business?
- Don't rely on Chrome's password vault
- Facebook Graph Search: don't panic
- Gmail drafts and Pastebin: could they evade the email snoops?
- Applying for a job at GCHQ? Here's your plain-text password
- Google two-step verification: a must for business email
- Yes, I write down my passwords