Hackers around the world see weaknesses in U.S. voting systems, electric grids and other pillars of American society. Russia’s alleged election meddling and other high-profile breaches have created a heightened sense of vulnerability even as new gee-whiz technologies to keep hackers at bay flood the market. To deter future attacks, experts warn, the United States needs to shore up its defenses and upend the perception that its systems are easy prey. “I guarantee the North Koreans and the Iranians saw what the Russians did and they’re going to try things in 2018 and 2020,” said former Pentagon cybersecurity policy chief Eric Rosenbach. “We have to change the perception that they’re going to get away with that,” he said at an industry conference last month.
Intelligence analysts have been raising red flags about North Korea taking a page from the Russian playbook. Cyberattacks are part of the regime’s “nontraditional methods that they can use to both support their own goals and gain some leverage in the international community,” said Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future and a former National Security Agency official.
“When it comes to cyber, they have realized that the cyber realm is an area in which they can exercise a degree of power and influence that they don’t have in other more conventional areas,” she said in a recent podcast.
North Korea’s primary intelligence service, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, has been known to sponsor criminal cyber activity, Moriuchi said. The country is suspected of being involved in the 2017 WannaCry malware attack on systems running Microsoft Windows and the hack of Sony Studios in 2014, but North Korean officials have denied any responsibility.