A full-scale targeted cyberattack launched by North Korea hackers could potentially "paralyse" the US Pacific Command (US PACOM) control centre, warned a report issued out by a South Korean state-run agency. South Korea defence experts reportedly believe that rival North's alleged growing cyber capabilities could potentially cause widespread damage to the US military and key critical infrastructure.
According to a report by the South Korean Defence Agency for Technology and Quality (DATQ), a recent simulation conducted by the Pentagon revealed that a targeted and large-scale cyberattack by North Korea state-sponsored hackers had the ability to cripple the US PACOM, while simultaneously causing extensive damage to the American power grid.
The South Korean defence ministry estimated that Pyongyang has an around 6,800-strong unit consisting of cyber warriors, with extensive expertise in conducting attacks. However, some experts have also speculated that the actual numbers making up North Korea's alleged elite hacker unit may also be as high as 30,000.
"The enemy (North Korea) will seek to disable our cyber capacity at a critical point via an all-out cyberattack. ... It is crucial (for South Korea) to establish an asymmetrical cyber warfare capacity to overwhelm that of the North," the report said. (via Korea Herald ).
The DATQ report also highlighted that the reclusive nation's hacking abilities have gained a reputation among cybersecurity experts, especially after the 2013 mass hacking, which hit 3 major banks and TV broadcasters in South Korea and resulted in successfully infecting nearly 48,000 computers with malware.
South Korean cyber specialist, Prof Lim Jong-in, who works at the graduate school of information security at Korea Universtiy claimed that cyber terrorism holds an appeal to economically impoverished nations like North Korea, as it allows for attacks which have a large impact and can be accomplished with a relatively small budget.
Cyber tension between North and South have recently escalated, amid a wave of allegations and cyberattacks. South Korea recently accused its rival of attacking its military cyber command. The allegations were later slammed by North Korean state media, which deemed the accusations as a "childish plot" designed to distract interest from the country's current political woes.
Earlier in the year, reports indicated that South Korea was working on building its own cyber army to combat increasing cyber threats from rival North. Both combative nations are believed to have dedicated cyber units designed to counter threats and launch offensive attacks.