North Korean Hackers Turned Cheap Laborers


Feb 20th

Despite the many reports and examples of how backwards and behind the current Kim regime in North Korea is, people still love to have this idea that the government secretly has an army of elite hackers with the best gear, hacking all sorts of top-secret country secrets, stealing millions from banks and living a sort of high life. Well, surprise, surprise but it seems as if reality is completely the opposite of what many people seem to want to think. According to North Korean hackers that were sent outside of the country to China to hack away and generate money, apparently have quite a shit quality of life.

A defector to South Korea told Bloomberg Businessweek that he was part of a group of hackers who did a variety of “hacking” jobs. From botting in online games to build high-value characters and items, hacking gambling sites to sell valuable information to players that cheat to just simply selling cracked versions of software that is commercial. These “armies” of hackers would live in “barrack-like” apartments offland, and would be subjected to random indoctrination sessions and being penalized and disciplined for misbehavior by being sent to prison camps. What a life!

According to the New York Times whom reported quite recently, within recent years, North Korea has sent out roughly more than 5,000 support staff and an estimated 1,700 hackers. And a common variable between them all is that they are usually centered abroad from North Korea, where internet access is actually decent (what a surprise) and keeping one’s self anonymous, is a lot easier. And while the whistleblower and his team of hackers were able to enjoy chaperoned outings, good food and climate control in their hotel type accommodation, some other North Korean hackers within China lived in poor accommodation with a lack of food and just in general – super poor conditions. They were even at risk of contracting life threatening diseases that the China climate provides. He says that his estimate in terms of money that he was earning for his government back home would be around $100,000 US dollars a year. He goes on to say that he wasn’t considered an “elite” hacker that had the big jobs, but rather “We were just a bunch of poor, low-paid laborers”. This particular man was forced to flee from his spot on the team after an encounter with a North Korean official, running hidden among China and in the end – becoming a refuge at a South Korean embassy. He is currently married now and a South Korean software company has now picked him up as a worker, said Bloomberg Businessweek.

Well what can we learn from all this? Apparently it seems as if the North Koreans are educating members of their society to become low-level greyhat manipulators and sending them abroad to essentially just “farm” money for the failing regime. I don’t think this really contests as to their “hacking” army but rather than just, laborers doing illegal things on the internet. Though I don’t doubt that Kim does have hackers under his rule.

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