Heightened Alert: North Korean-Backed Cyber Threats Target Defense Sector Supply Chain

Vigilance Required: Defense Sector Warned of Persistent Cyber Threats Linked to North Korea

In a joint advisory, the German Federal Intelligence Agency (BfV) and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) caution against cyber espionage operations orchestrated by North Korean-affiliated actors targeting the global defense sector and its supply chain.

These operations, sanctioned by the North Korean government, aim to pilfer advanced military technology insights to bolster the nation’s military prowess.

The advisory cites two notable incidents attributed to North Korean-backed cyber actors. Firstly, a 2022 intrusion into a maritime research center’s systems, culminating in a supply-chain breach affecting the firm and the target organization’s web server maintenance functions. Secondly, ‘Operation Dream Job,’ an ongoing social engineering campaign by the LAZARUS group since mid-2020, leveraging fake job profiles to disseminate malicious files to defense personnel through enticing job offers.

These instances underscore the perpetrators’ persistence, adaptability, and adeptness at exploiting trust. Consequently, organizations are urged to enhance cyber resilience through measures such as employee training on evolving threats, access restriction during remote maintenance, robust monitoring of system access, stringent patch management, and adoption of multi-factor authentication.

To mitigate supply-chain threats, the advisory recommends access restriction, meticulous audit logging, secure website development practices, and the implementation of multi-factor authentication for VPNs. For countering social engineering attacks, measures include staff education on common tactics, privilege limitation, rigorous update protocols, and fostering a culture of prompt security incident reporting.