North Korean hacker groups are again suspected of launching cyber attacks around the world as Indonesia’s Minister of Information and Communications Rudiantara declares the country free from the destructive WannaCry ransomware.
North Korean hackers are believed to have hacked more than 140,000 computers in 160 South Korean companies and government agencies in June last year. In 2014, an attack targeted South Korean reactor operators.
These hacks were launched from China, according to security firm Huri Inc. Senior Researcher Simon Choi.
“They operate there so that whatever they do, everything comes from IP addresses in China,” Choi said, as quoted by Reuters via Detik.
Malaysia is also suspected of being a favoured country of North Korean hackers, where some are believed to be employed in IT programming. Other suspects run websites or create gaming and gambling programs.
The investigation found two IT companies based in Malaysia have links to North Korean spies. Investigators allege the companies could be behind Unit 180, an elite hacker group allegedly supported by the North Korean government.
While the North Korean government continues to deny the existence of the hacking rings, the threat of hacks is treated seriously by Indonesian specialists.
The WannaCry ransomware, which affected at least 200,000 computers throughout Indonesia, spread a virus attacking data networks and internet connections. Users would be prompted to pay a fee to have the virus removed and access returned to files. Overall, the impact was minimal in Indonesia due to large scale prevention measures.
Rudiantara doubted many Indonesians paid the scammers.
“Regarding the ransom, I do not think Indonesian companies paid (it) because I have urged them to not pay,” he said, as reported by Antara.
Security experts warn users not get complacent just because WannaCry has been cracked.
“Whether or not they are involved in the WannaCry attack does not change the fact that they are a real cyber threat,” a US government security expert said, as reported by Detik.
The National Cyber Security Centre in the UK has shared a few important tips to protect household gadgets, such as installing new patches and computer updates and avoiding suspicious websites and downloads.
Accordingly, “the hackers will exploit vulnerabilities in operating systems, web browsers, plug-in and application that have often been known about for some time.”
Forbes also points out that users can protect themselves from cyber attacks by monitoring credit card statements regularly, signing up for real-time alerts, keeping private information secure, routinely changing passwords and subscribing to identity protection.
Rudiantara has regularly reminded the community, institutions and companies to create backups and store data on a separate server.