North Korea reportedly hacked U.S.-South Korea war plans

A soldier stands on a PAC-2 launcher (L) next to medium-range surface-to-air missiles during a photo opportunity ahead of a celebration to mark the 69th anniversary of Korea Armed Forces Day, in Pyeongtaek, September 25, 2017. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of – A South Korean lawmaker said Tuesday that North Korean hackers may have stolen highly classified military documents that include U.S.-South Korean wartime “decapitation strike” plans against the North, according to South Korean media reports.

Rep. Lee Cheol-hee, a lawmaker for the ruling Democratic Party, cited unidentified defence officials as saying the hackers stole the plans last year, according to the reports. Neither Lee nor Defence Ministry officials responded to attempts late Tuesday to confirm the stories. Defence officials refused to comment when reached by other media.

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If confirmed, such a hack would be a major blow for South Korea at a time when its relations with North Korea are at a low point. The South has taken an increasingly aggressive stance toward the North’s belligerence amid back-and-forth threats of war between North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump.

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Among the classified plans allegedly stolen from the South were said to be blueprints for targeted attacks by Seoul and Washington to eliminate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if a crisis breaks out or appears imminent. Kim is the third generation of his family to rule North Korea.

The South’s Yonhap news agency quoted Lee as saying that 235 gigabytes of military documents were taken. While nearly 80 per cent of the documents had not yet been identified, they reportedly included contingency plans for South Korean special forces and information on military facilities and power plants, it said.

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Yonhap said South Korean defence officials said in May that North Korea may have hacked a crucial South Korean military online network but didn’t say what was stolen.

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Seoul says North Korea has repeatedly staged cyberattacks on South Korean business and government websites. North Korea routinely denies responsibility.

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