There is a striking reference to India in a remarkable piece of investigative journalism by David Sanger, David Kirkpatrick and Nicole Perlroth in The New York Times yesterday about North Korea’s growing cyberpower.
The broad thrust of the story is that Pyongyang has become increasingly successful in deploying its cyberpower to get around the mounting international economic pressure. As the headline suggests, North Korea was once mocked for its cyberpower but that is no longer the case as its army of 6,000 hackers have begun to make a serious dent internationally.
The reference I was struck by was this:
“A recent analysis by the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future found heavy North Korean internet activity in India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nepal, Kenya, Mozambique, and Indonesia. In some cases, like that of New Zealand, North Korean hackers were simply routing their attacks through the country’s computers from abroad. In others, researchers believe they are now physically stationed in countries like India, where nearly one-fifth of Pyongyang’s cyberattacks now originate,” the story reveals.
That North Korean cyber warriors are “physically stationed” in India from where a fifth of Pyongyang’s attacks originate is a startling disclosure. I presume those physically stationed in India are not North Koreans but their Indian or other foreign proxies based in India. The passage comes immediately after the revelation that the North Koreans had dispersed hacking teams abroad.
New Delhi needs to pay serious attention to this revelation, if it is not already aware of this. Quite obviously, Pyongyang wants to ride India’s well-known expertise in the cyber world and exploit some of its vulnerabilities to mask the origin of the attacks.
The Indian government needs to begin an immediate investigation into who these North Korean hackers physically stationed in India are because their presence has serious security implications for the country too. Cyber war is a borderless affair and it could just as easily turn on India’s security establishment. I wonder whether Recorded Future has already alerted New Delhi to this threat.