South Korean defence minister Kim Kwan-jin reckons Pyongyang has 3,000 highly trained hackers tasked with stealing military secrets and disrupting systems.
In a warning clearly designed to set the alarm bells ringing in Seoul, Kim said that Seoul’s near neighbour to the north poses a clear threat to national security thanks to its formidable online capabilities.
The sizeable team of cyber operatives he described works under the Reconnaissance General Bureau of the Korean People's Army, according to local news agency Yonhap.
Kim claimed that group was responsible for a large scale DDoS attack on South Korea in 2009, the hacking of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation in 2010 and a data wiping malware attack which knocked out PCs at several major TV stations and banks earlier this year.
Pyongyang has apparently denied all responsibility for these incidents.
Although details are vague, South Korea is apparently working to create a new mobile device security system to ensure confidential information can’t be nabbed from officials’ smartphones and tablets.
The country’s military also uses a walled intranet cut off from the rest of the web to further reduce the risk of hacking attacks.
Although Seoul officials periodically warn of the increasing dangers of online attacks from the north, this stands somewhat at odds from the generally understood view that internet infrastructure in Norks is virtually non-existent.
Only a relatively select group of Party members, academics, scientists and of course the supposed 3,000-strong cyber army are thought to have access to the internet in North Korea. ®