Why North Korea’s Hacking Should Have Been on the Trump/Kim Singapore Summit

Trump’s Denuclearization Summit with North Korea ignored a big tech threat affecting the US, South Korea and foreign governments around the world

When President Trump met recently with Kim Jun-Un of N. Korea in Singapore, the topic of denuclearization was the #1 issue on the table. Nuclear Weapons are a huge threat to humanity and could be used in a war to wipe out millions of people in the heat of battle.

While President Trump has declared that the threat of a nuclear attack from N.Korea is less likely given the deal they officially signed, not everyone is convinced that we are out of the woods and that a lot more work needs to be done to make sure N. Korea does give up their nuclear weapons and we can verify this sooner than later.

But for those of us in the tech world, we were stunned that another threat from N. Korea was not even on the table to be discussed at this summit, given the immediate impact N.Korea hacking has had and is having on the U.S, S.Korea and other foreign countries at the moment. Indeed, it appears that before President Trump and Kim Jung-Un met, North Korea was hacking into a South Korean ThinkTank to get intel on S. Korean National Security.

Clearly prevention of nuclear warfare needed to be a top priority from the Trump-Kim Jun-Un meeting. But to ignore the hacking threat that N. Korea poses, which seems to be part of an organized cyberwarfare campaign, is irresponsible.

Much has already been written about the WannaCry hack that originated in N. Korea that for a few days infected and encrypted computers around the world and demanded people infected with this malware pay a ransom in Bitcoin to unlock their data. And a few years back, North Korea stole and published Sony’s unreleased Seth Rogan satire about N. Korea called The Interview and caused much havoc with Sony’s computer systems.

While China and Russia mostly use hacking to try and steal military information and get access to tech IP and tech and trade secrets, N, Korea’s hacking is mostly focused on earning money for the country itself.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg Businessweek published an interview with a defector who was part of N. Koreas’s hacker Army. According to this article, this defector told them that these “hackers were required to earn up to $100,000 a year, through whatever means they could, and were allowed to keep less than 10% of that.”

A full read of this Bloomberg Businessweek article is recommended as it shares many details about the N. Korean hacking army and how it works and its ultimate goals. More importantly, it shares how organized and detailed N. Korea’s cyber warfare activities are and the kind of damage it has done and can do.

I am sure that our government officials, especially in our security agencies, are aware of this N. Korean threat and its potential impact on our national security, businesses and even individuals. However, to date, I have not seen any statements by them related to this N. Korean summit and the fact that this issue needed to be on the table along with the denuclearization problem. I in no way mean to downplay the serious impact a nuclear weapon could have if ever deployed. But this N. Korean hacking issue is huge and at the very least it should have been part of the summit discussion.

Now that the two countries are talking, I believe Trump and those working on some form of peace treaty need to seriously consider adding a push for N. Korea to curtail their hacking program as part of an eventual deal. I understand that it was tough to get them to the table to even to talk about denuclearization but N. Korea’s hacking army is also a threat to our national security and I believe has to be addressed in any final deal the two countries eventually sign.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

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