In Box

Hermit Hackers

South Korea’s National Assembly Defense Committee recently reported that North Korea has trained an army of 500 to 600 skilled computer hackers. According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (nis.go.kr/eng), North Korea’s hackers attend a special five-year college called the Automated Warfare Institute. Tucked away in the mountains, the South Koreans say, this military academy ...

South Korea's National Assembly Defense Committee recently reported that North Korea has trained an army of 500 to 600 skilled computer hackers. According to South Korea's National Intelligence Service (nis.go.kr/eng), North Korea's hackers attend a special five-year college called the Automated Warfare Institute. Tucked away in the mountains, the South Koreans say, this military academy produces 100 cyberwarriors per year, with degrees in subjects such as automated reconnaissance.

News that North Korea is developing cyberwarfare capabilities on par with those in advanced nations came as a surprise. Short on cutting-edge computer technology (not to mention reliable electrical grids), the Hermit Kingdom still depends on other nations for its Internet bandwidth. As of October 2004, there were reportedly 43 official North Korean or pro-North Korean Web sites on the Net. Yet none of these sites is actually housed on a North Korean computer server. Seventeen, including North Korea's official news agency, KCNA (kcna.co.jp), exist on Japanese servers. Servers in the United States, China, Singapore, and Germany host North Korea's remaining sites.

South Korea’s National Assembly Defense Committee recently reported that North Korea has trained an army of 500 to 600 skilled computer hackers. According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (nis.go.kr/eng), North Korea’s hackers attend a special five-year college called the Automated Warfare Institute. Tucked away in the mountains, the South Koreans say, this military academy produces 100 cyberwarriors per year, with degrees in subjects such as automated reconnaissance.

News that North Korea is developing cyberwarfare capabilities on par with those in advanced nations came as a surprise. Short on cutting-edge computer technology (not to mention reliable electrical grids), the Hermit Kingdom still depends on other nations for its Internet bandwidth. As of October 2004, there were reportedly 43 official North Korean or pro-North Korean Web sites on the Net. Yet none of these sites is actually housed on a North Korean computer server. Seventeen, including North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA (kcna.co.jp), exist on Japanese servers. Servers in the United States, China, Singapore, and Germany host North Korea’s remaining sites.

<p> Rebecca MacKinnon is a Schwartz senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a former CNN bureau chief in Tokyo and Beijing, co-founder of the citizen media network Global Voices, and author of Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom. </p>

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