US says North Korean malware lurking in computer networks

In this May 15, 2017 photo, employees watch electronic boards monitoring possible ransomware cyberattacks at the Korea Internet and Security Agency in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)
Updated 15 November 2017
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US says North Korean malware lurking in computer networks

WASHINGTON: US authorities said Tuesday malware developed in North Korea is still lurking in many computer networks, giving hackers backdoor access to government, financial, automotive and media organizations.
An alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security warned of surreptitious activity by the so-called “Hidden Cobra” hacker group, also known by the name “Lazarus.”
US officials earlier this year blamed the group for a series of cyberattacks dating back to 2009, saying it was linked to the Pyongyang government.
In Tuesday’s warning, the DHS Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said the hacker could still maintain a presence on victims’ networks with the aim of “further network exploitation.”
The report said some networks could be infected with the Volgmer “backdoor Trojan” or a remote administration tool known as Fallchill, which can give hackers complete control of a system.
It said FBI investigators suspect the Fallchill tool has been used since 2016 and Volgmer since 2013.
Private security analysts refer to Hidden Cobra as the “Lazarus” group of hackers linked to North Korea and likely behind a series of multimillion-dollar cyber thefts from banks around the world.
Some analysts say the Lazarus group may also have been behind the WannaCry ransomware outbreak earlier this year.
Hackers in the Hidden Cobra or Lazarus group have been active since 2009 and “have leveraged their capabilities to target and compromise a range of victims,” according to a DHS report in June.
“Some intrusions have resulted in the exfiltration of data while others have been disruptive in nature.”
DHS and FBI officials say the group “will continue to use cyber operations to advance their government’s military and strategic objectives,” according to the DHS report.
North Korea has denied orchestrating any cyberattacks, but the latest report comes amid rising tensions with the United States over the communist regime’s nuclear testing program.


Afghan attack won’t change Kandahar security situation — US Defense chief Mattis

Updated 3 min 3 sec ago
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Afghan attack won’t change Kandahar security situation — US Defense chief Mattis

  • The Taliban have claimed responsibility for Thursday’s shooting in Kandahar
  • The attack killed anti-Taliban strongman and police chief General Abdul Raziq

SINGAPORE: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday the killing of a top Afghan official would not fundamentally change the security situation in Kandahar province.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for Thursday’s shooting in the restive southern province that killed anti-Taliban strongman and police chief, General Abdul Raziq.
At least two other people died during the attack inside a fortified government compound in Kandahar city that targeted a high-level security meeting.
The top commander for US and NATO forces, General Scott Miller, was also present but escaped injury.
Mattis said he did not see Raziq’s death as changing things on the ground in Kandahar.
“I’ve seen the officers around him. I’ve seen the maturation of the Afghan security forces,” Mattis told reporters on the sidelines of a security summit in Singapore.
“It’s a tragic loss of a patriot for Afghanistan. But I don’t see it having a long-term effect on our area.”
The Pentagon chief said it was too early to know if the assault would hamper turnout for parliamentary elections set for October 20.