North Korean malware still lurks in computers worldwide

US authorities say malware from North Korea may be lurking in computer systems giving hackers remote access. AFP file

US authorities say malware from North Korea may be lurking in computer systems giving hackers remote access. AFP file

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have issued joint technical alerts detailing cyberattacks launched by North Korean hackers targeting aerospace, telecommunications, financial and critical infrastructure sectors in the US since 2016.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security also posted a list of IP addresses linked to Hidden Cobra.

United States officials earlier this year blamed the group for a series of cyberattacks dating back to 2009, saying it was linked to the Pyongyang government.

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It said FBI investigators suspect the Fallchill tool has been used since 2016 and Volgmer since 2013. The FBI says it "has high confidence" that those IP addresses are linked to attacks that infect computer systems with Volgmer, a Trojan malware variant used by Hidden Cobra to target the government, financial, auto and media industries.

In Tuesday's warning, the DHS Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said the hacker could still maintain a presence on victims' networks with the aim of "further network exploitation".

While North Korea's cyber espionage efforts were once dismissed by many security experts, the success of Hidden Cobra over the last few years has changed that perception, and it is now seen as a serious threat because it is able to do a lot of damage at a relatively low cost.

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North Korea has denied orchestrating any cyber attacks, but the latest report comes amid rising tensions with the United States over the communist regime's nuclear testing program.

Hackers in the Hidden Cobra or Lazarus group have been active since 2009 and "have leveraged their capabilities to target and compromise a range of victims", according to a DHS report in June, AFP said.

"Some intrusions have resulted in the exfiltration of data while others have been disruptive in nature".

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