US security firm: North Korea’s elite hacking group reaches ‘advanced’ level 2

Press TV. Listen here.

An AFP photo taken on May 15, 2017 shows staff monitoring the spread of ransomware cyber-attacks at the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) in Seoul. (Photos by AFP)
An AFP photo taken on May 15, 2017 shows staff monitoring the spread of ransomware cyber-attacks at the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) in Seoul. (Photos by AFP)

A top US security firm is cautioning American politicians about a North Korean elite hacking group’s capability to engage in a cyber-war with the United States.

The elite hacking group called Reaper, which is also known as ACT37, has reached the level of “advanced persistent threat,” according to a Tuesday report by American cybersecurity company FireEye.

“APT37 has expanded its operations in both scope and sophistication,” the company warned.

It further claimed that the group has been active “since at least 2012 and focuses on targeting the public and private sectors primarily in South Korea.”

This photo taken on February 8, 2018 and released on February 9, 2018 by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) attending a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang.

ACT37 ‘maturing’

FireEye’s director of intelligence analysis, John Hultquist, told Wired, that the group is “the next team to watch.”

 

“This operator has continued to operate in a cloud of obscurity, mostly because they’ve stayed regional. But they’re showing all the signs of a maturing asset that’s commanded by the North Korean regime and can be turned to any purpose it wants,” Hultquist claimed. “They’re making moves outside of South Korea, which is very disconcerting, given their level of aggression.”

The report was released amid growing tensions between the US and North Korea as well as a war of words between the two countries’ leaders, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

A man impersonating Donald Trump (R) and another impersonating Kim Jong-un pose in the stands during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018.

‘Come springtime, war breaks out’

Meanwhile, Fox News, the US president’s favorite news channel, published a report on its website, predicting a war between the two nuclear powers “by April.”

“Know this: come springtime, the United States and North Korea could very well find itself at war as tensions are set to spike once more,” Fox News reported.

This is while efforts have recently been underway for a diplomatic solution on the Korean Peninsula, in part through the Winter Olympics held in South Korea.

Nukes, North Korea’s ‘last resort’

There are also concerns that Washington may launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the resolute nation, a move described as “extremely foolish,” by Keith Preston, the director of attackthesystem.com.

“The North Koreans may have nuclear capabilities but the real question is to what degree do they have incentives to actually use any weapons of mass destruction,” he told Press TV in an interview on Tuesday, arguing it would be “their last resort.”

He further asserted that Pyongyang is using its nuclear power merely as a “bargaining chip,” predicting that North Korea’s use of such weapons is “a bit far-fetched.”

Tensions heightened between the two countries after Trump warned to “totally destroy” North Korea during a speech to the latest UN General Assembly.

Even the Trump administration, the Virginia-based analyst noted, would probably “prefer to avoid direct military confrontation with North Korea because the consequences for the United States would be significant.”

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