The U.S. government on Wednesday issued an advisory highlighting the ongoing cyber security threat posed by North Korea to the U.S. and international community.
The announcement from the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Treasury, and the FBI, wasn’t precipitated by a new revelation or particular threat.
“The U.S. government regularly, and proactively, shares cyber threat information with international partners, the private sector, and the public,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. “This advisory collates the information on existing U.S. government resources in one place and provides a policy overview and recommended steps to counter the North Korean cyber threat. It is vital to stay vigilant and to work together to mitigate the cyber threat posed by North Korea.”
The comprehensive guidance runs through the ways North Korea has targeted the financial sector for its financial gain, various cyber operations that the U.S. has attributed to that country, including the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and the 2017 WannaCry 2.0 ransomware release, measures to mitigate the threat, and potential consequences to people and organizations supporting the country’s illicit cyber activities.
In response to the new advisory, John Hultquist, senior director for Intelligence Analysis at the cyber security firm FireEye [FEYE], issued a statement saying that “The most interesting revelation” in it “was that North Korean hackers were offering their services to third parties and being paid to work as hackers-for-hire.”
He said that these hackers were known to be freelancing but not working outside the direction of the North Korean government.
“It’s not uncommon for states to tap commercial or criminal talent which then carries on parallel criminal activity, but it is rare for us to find evidence of state actors carrying out criminal side operations with the government’s knowledge,” Hultquist said. “Ultimately, this is yet more evidence that North Korea is heavily invested in their cyber capability and taking every opportunity to leverage and monetize it.”