Hackers just stole the names and addresses of 1,000 North Korean defectors

The defectors are living in exile in South Korea, but many still have families still in the north.
December 28, 2018, 2:33pm
Hackers just stole the names and addresses of 1,000 North Korean defectors

The names and addresses of nearly 1,000 North Korean defectors living in the South were stolen from a government database, a South Korean ministry said Friday.

Hackers gained access to personal data from the Gyeongsang resettlement center, which helps defectors adjust to their new life after fleeing oppression in the North.

A computer was found to be infected with “malicious code," the BBC reported.


“The malware was planted through emails sent by an internal address,” a South Korean official told reporters.

The names, birth dates and addresses of 997 defectors was leaked. Those affected by the data breach have been informed, a South Korean official said.

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“We’re sorry this has happened and will make efforts to prevent it from recurring,” the official added.

The identity of the hackers is not yet known, however the leak could imperil family members of defectors still living in the North.

The government in Seoul said police are investigating the hack, which they became aware of on Dec. 19, and that none of the other 25 resettlement centers run by the South Korean government had been targeted.

South Korea has not accused North Korea of carrying out the attack, despite state-run media in Pyongyang regularly vilifying North Koreans that defect.

In recent years North Korea has carried out several high-profile hacks, including a 2017 attack on the National Health Service in the U.K. and the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures in the U.S.

Cover: Pyongyang residents bow before the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during National Memorial Day on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang on December 17, 2018. (Photo by KIM WON JIN/AFP/Getty Images)