US says North Korean malware lurking in computer networks

Washington - US authorities said on Tuesday malware developed in North Korea is still lurking in many computer networks, giving hackers backdoor access to government, financial, automotive and media organisations.

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 programme.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Matric results are out! Are you happy with your child's result?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No, the pandemic really messed up their ability to focus
34% - 157 votes
Yes, they did well given the circumstances
66% - 309 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.10
+0.9%
Rand - Pound
20.46
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.13
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.85
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Gold
1,834.71
0.0%
Silver
24.29
0.0%
Palladium
2,111.50
0.0%
Platinum
1,034.00
0.0%
Brent Crude
87.89
-0.6%
Top 40
68,186
-2.1%
All Share
74,835
-1.9%
Resource 10
74,924
-3.0%
Industrial 25
94,147
-1.8%
Financial 15
15,076
-0.2%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE