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International relations

North Korean hack targets South's nuclear power research

State-linked attack last month possibly leaked technology to Pyongyang

 A South Korean researcher checks a radio active lever of debris from dismantled experimental reactor belonging to the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- North Korean hackers conducted a cyberattack against a South Korean nuclear energy research organization last month and may have stolen valuable technology, a South Korean lawmaker said Friday.

The attackers targeted the state-run Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute. IP addresses linked to the "kimsuky" hacking unit within Pyongyang's Reconnaissance General Bureau were found to have connected to the organization's internal networks on May 14.

"Government agencies are currently assessing the damage," the institute told Nikkei.

The incident was disclosed by a lawmaker from the opposition People Power Party who sits on the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee.

"If nuclear power technology has been leaked to North Korea, the damage from this hack would be second only to the 2016 attack on our national defense network," the lawmaker said. In that incident, Pyongyang stole classified data including a strategy for a "decapitation" strike against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korean cyberattacks targeting security and foreign policy officials in President Moon Jae-in's administration, mainly phishing attacks, have been on the rise, according to South Korean media.

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