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U.N.’s North Korea Investigators Hit By Cyber Attack

A group of unknown hackers are targeting United Nations experts investigating potential sanctions violations by North Korea, Reuters reported Monday.

According to a U.N. email obtained by the news agency, the hackers, who are said to have had “very detailed insight” into their targets, successfully infiltrated one expert’s computer on May 8.

The hackers used their knowledge to craft a “highly personalized message” to the sanctions investigator that included a malicious email attachment.

“The zip file was sent with a highly personalized message which shows the hackers have very detailed insight into the panel’s current investigations structure and working methods,” read the email, which was sent on May 8.

A second email, sent on May 10 by the secretary to the sanctions committee, also known as 1718, to Security Council members, also stated the U.N. Office of Information and Communications Technology was analyzing “the affected hard drive.”

“Increased vigilance relating to 1718 Committee-related correspondence is therefore advised until data analysis and related investigations are completed,” the email read.

North Korea’s deputy U.N. envoy responded to news of the hack, first announced Friday by a representative of the chair of the committee, by calling insinuations that Pyongyang was responsible “ridiculous.”

Numerous cybersecurity analysts have also pointed fingers at North Korean-linked hackers, known as “Lazarus Group,” for the WannaCry ransomware outbreak that infected hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe.

“Our confidence is very high that this is the work of people associated with the Lazarus Group…” Vikram Thakur, security response technical director for US-based cybersecurity firm Symantec, said.

The U.N. Security Council has bolstered sanctions against North Korea as the country continues to advance its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

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About Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is an investigative journalist covering foreign policy, information security and digital surveillance. His reports have been cited by sites such as the New York Times, Computerworld, International Business Times and the Drudge Report. How to contact Mikael securely: https://keybase.io/mikaelthalen

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