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North Korean Hackers Reportedly Stole US, South Korean War Plans

Ryan Pickrell on October 10, 2017

North Korean hackers reportedly breached South Korean defense systems last year, gaining access to numerous classified military documents, including key U.S. and South Korean war plans, according to local media.

The hackers, who used tactics resembling North Korean approaches, stole thousands of military documents from the Defense Integrated Data Center in September last year, Minjoo Party Rep. Rhee Cheol-hee revealed Tuesday, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Of the 235 gigabytes of data lifted, nearly 80 percent has yet to be properly identified. “The Ministry of National Defense has yet to find out about the content of 182 gigabytes of the total (stolen) data,” Rhee explained.

Classified war plans were among the stolen documents, specifically OPLAN 5015 and OPLAN 3100, even though the South Korean defense ministry initially claimed that nothing important was leaked.

OPLAN 5015 is the most recent joint U.S.-South Korean plan for a war with North Korea. While the exact details for OPLAN 5015 are classified, the plan is believed to consolidate previous contingency plans, specifically OPLAN 5029 (internal instability in North Korea), OPLAN 5027 (preparations for an all-out war), and a peacetime plan involving localized provocations from North Korea. OPLAN 5015 is suspected to call for preemptive strikes on the North’s essential military facilities and weapons, and possibly North Korean leadership in the event of a conflict.

OPLAN 3100 is Seoul’s plan for localized provocations, such as a special forces invasion. There are also contingency plans for Special Warfare Command in the event of a major North Korean provocation.

The leaked documents also included reports on U.S.-South Korean joint military drills, as well as important data on military installations and power facilities across South Korea.

North Korea is believed to have invested heavily in offensive cyberwarfare capabilities. Some estimates suggest that North Korea has an army of almost 7,ooo cyber warriors. This asymmetric capability offers a cheap-yet-effective way for North Korea to steal funds, disrupt global networks, and practice high-level espionage.

Many of North Korea’s hackers have received special training overseas, China in particular.

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