East Asia’s Hidden Threat: Unit 180

With cybersecurity experts across the globe scrambling to recuperate after the WannaCry attack earlier in May, suspicions have begun to fall onto the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Dozens of publications, including The Japan Times have published articles focusing on North Korea’s cyber spy programs.

Given special attention recently is a sector called Unit 180, a special cell in North Korea’s spy agency suspected of carrying out some of the largest cyber-attacks in the past decade. These include a cyber-heist on the central bank in Bangladesh and an infiltration of Sony’s Hollywood studio in 2014. Despite the publicity these attacks received, Pyongyang has always been able to deny their involvement in them, leading to an inability to investigate them further.

A prominent reason for the difficulty in indicting the hackers rises from the fact that the hackers often perform their attacks from outside of North Korea, travelling to China or other Southeast Asian countries under the premise of other business. These countries often have superior internet infrastructures than North Korea, a side-effect of their closed-off nature. From that position, they can attack computers all around the world, and with remote IP addresses no less. This problem highlights the need for not only a strong defense when it comes to cyber security, but also a swift and potent rebuttal. In order to truly be safe from future attacks, Trillium has poured time and effort into the development of our SecureIXS platform, giving us the much-needed ability to aggressively counterattack in the case of an intrusion. Not only is such functionality critical to securing users’ life and liberty, it is also instrumental in ensuring that perpetrators can be held accountable for their crimes.

In an age where dangerous military secrets could be plundered in a cyber-attack, this level of anonymity is a threat that cannot be left unaddressed. For as long as malicious entities such as Unit 180 exist, further investment and development of cyber defense is an avenue all nations must prioritize, lest that malice turn to open, unrestrained aggression.