SEOUL — North Korean computer hackers have stolen hundreds of classified military documents from South Korea including detailed wartime operational plans involving its US ally, a report said on Tuesday.
Rhee Cheol-Hee, a lawmaker for the ruling Democratic party, said the hackers had broken into the South’s military network last September and gained access to 235 gigabytes of sensitive data, the Chosun Ilbo daily reported.
Among the leaked documents was Operational Plans 5015 for use in case of war with the North and including procedures for “decapitation” attacks on leader Kim Jong-Un, the paper quoted Rhee as saying.
Rhee, a member of parliament’s defense committee, could not be reached for comment but his office said he had been quoted correctly.
The report comes amid heightened fears of conflict on the Korean peninsula, fueled by US President Donald Trump’s continued threats of military action against Pyongyang to tame its weapons ambitions.
In his latest tweet over the weekend, Trump reiterated that diplomatic efforts with North Korea have consistently failed, adding that “only one thing will work”.
Citing Seoul’s defense ministry, Rhee said that 80 percent of the leaked documents had yet to be identified.
But the contingency plan for the South’s special forces was stolen, he said, as well as details about annual joint military drills with the US and information on key military facilities and power plants.
A ministry spokesman declined to confirm the report, citing intelligence matters.
In May the ministry said North Korea had hacked into Seoul’s military intranet but did not say what had been leaked.
Pyongyang has a 6,800-strong unit of trained cyber-warfare specialists, according to the South Korean government. It has been accused of launching high-profile cyber-attacks including the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures.
The Chosun Ilbo story was the second report Tuesday of military-related cyber-attacks in the Asia-Pacific.
Australia’s government said separately an unidentified defense contractor had been hacked and a “significant amount of data” stolen.
There were 47,000 cyber-incidents in the last 12 months, a 15 percent increase from the previous year, Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan said in Canberra as he launched a report by the Cyber Security Centre
The defense contractor was exploited via an internet-facing server, with the cyber-criminals using remote administrative access to remain in its network, the report said.
The Australian newspaper reported that the hacker was based in China but Tehan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that “we don’t know and we cannot confirm exactly who the actor was”.
Meanwhile in another development, the European Union on Tuesday extended sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning the import of textiles from the pariah state and limiting sales of crude oil.
The 28-member bloc adopted UN restrictions imposed by the Security Council last month to punish Pyongyang for its sixth and largest nuclear test into its own sanctions program.
The North reacted furiously when the United Nations approved the new measures, saying its response would make the United States suffer “the greatest pain it has ever experienced in its history”.
The sanctions include a ban on the sale of natural gas liquids to North Korea and limitations to the sale of crude oil and refined petrol products. — Agencies