South Korea faces increased cyber threat ahead of Trump-Kim meet: Report

Washington,   Ahead of next week’s scheduled meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, South Korean entities are facing increased cyber threats from Russian and Chinese hackers, a cyber security company said on Tuesday.

The cyberattacks were carried out as recently as May by groups with a record of targeting foreign ministries and financial institutions, according to US-based company FireEye.

“A China-based group which it calls ‘TempTick’, embedded malware in Microsoft Word documents distributed early last month. Researchers also blamed ‘Turla’ — a Russia-based unit that has selectively targeted governments world-wide, for a JavaScript attack in April,” the cybersecurity firm said in a statement.

“Turla” has been described as a state-sponsored outfit while “TempTick” has carried out activity consistent with government sponsorship.

“TempTick” has been around since at least 2009 and has traditionally focused on South Korea and Japan, hitting financial institutions and government entities including aerospace.

“Turla”, the Russian group, is a sophisticated hacking operation that has long sought high-level, diplomatic intelligence.

Researchers from the cybersecurity company also identified attacks in March by another Chinese group called “Tonto” in which it distributed malicious files in a fake posting for a job with the South Korean Coast Guard.

The “Tonto”, described as state-sponsored, had been connected to last year’s attcks on South Korean entities involved in the deployment of a US missile-defence system that has irked Beijing.