North Korea’s Digital Shadow: Unboxing State-Sponsored Cyber Menace

north korea hackers IT

In shocking news released today, state-sponsored North Korean hackers have seriously escalated their pursuits, targeting the IT industry and skillfully deceiving global companies hungry for IT professionals. It’s patently clear that security threats aren’t only posed by physical armies but by invisible hackers nesting in seemingly innocuous sectors.

The Playbook of North Korean Hackers: Targeting Developers and Exploiting Vulnerabilities

Prominent hacking groups backed by North Korea, named Lazarus (Diamond Sleet) and Andariel (Onyx Sleet), have been laying traps for unsuspecting tech firms. From breaching systems to establishing unbroken access, they have been turning compromised hosts into a haven for more extensive system and network infringement.

These groups have been notably successful on two fronts:

1. The first comprising of the deployment of a ForestTiger backdoor, and
2. The second involving the execution of payloads for DLL search-order hijacking attacks.

Moreover, a fresh modus operandi surfaced with attacks on software developers through GitHub under the guise of being a fellow developer or recruiter. Such sinister strategies underline the need for Internet users to tread carefully, especially when collaborating online in shared spaces.

North Korean IT Workers: The Potential Trojan Horses

But it’s not the digital landscapes alone that are under threat. Savvy North Korean IT professionals are also gaining entry into organizations by exploiting the prevailing skilled-employee scarcity, proving to be possible insiders threatening the very foundations of an enterprise. Companies may unknowingly surrender their trade secrets, lose their investments, and risk their entire operation to insidious sabotage. The US authorities’ recent seizure of multiple domains of North Korean IT operatives feigning as legitimate US-based firms is ominously telling.

A Word of Caution and Guidance for IT

Agencies such as the US Department of State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of the Treasury have advised companies to remain wary of hiring from North Korea by maintaining records of interactions, implementing staunch security protocols, and only working with reliable online platforms with robust identity verifications in place. Particular emphasis must be given to outsourcing and staffing firms to provide documented background checks, corroborating the provided financial information with a legal bank.

The eerily prevalent nature of this scheme necessitates reassurance for companies, warning them to be extra watchful and cautious when hiring freelance IT professionals, strictly ensuring identity verification on secure video communication platforms.

North Korea’s Ballistic Extortion: Exploiting the Pandemic Landscape

This is likely not the last time we will hear of state-sponsored exploits, “I think the post-COVID world has created a lot more opportunity for them because freelancing and remote hiring are a far more natural part of the business than they were in the past,” says cybersecurity expert John Hultquist.

The pandemic’s affinity to remote working scenarios presented a seemingly ripe opportunity for these ticking time bombs. Higher payments for technical roles make IT freelancing a lucrative conduit for North Korea to fund its ballistic projects covertly.


The apparent profit-driven intent behind North Korea’s cyber warfare delineates a marked difference from other countries more concerned with espionage, intellectual property theft, or undermining democracies. With a mission to enhance nuclear weaponry production exponentially, these activities are a critical component of a ‘new Cold War’.

In this era of digital deception, the warning bells have never sounded more urgent. Navigating these unchartered waters demands vigilance, careful scrutiny, and guidance from cyber-conscious platforms such as Understanding these new age warriors and their strategies is the need of the hour, necessitating a proactive approach to remain unsusceptible to such nefarious cybernetic plots.


1. What are the strategies of North Korean hackers?
The hackers exploit software vulnerabilities primarily in the IT industry. They infiltrate systems, establish persistent access, deploy backdoors, and execute malware, often under the guise of fellow developers or recruiters.

2. What risk do North Korean IT workers pose to organizations?
They have been infiltrating organizations in the guise of genuine IT professionals, leading to potential theft of trade secrets or funds and putting the company’s existence at risk.

3. How can such threats be mitigated?
Conducting rigorous background checks, utilizing reliable online platforms with robust identity verification processes, and maintaining detailed interaction records are some recommended measures.

4. What role has the shift to remote working played in this scenario?
The increased prevalence of freelancing and remote hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic has created more opportunities for these nefarious activities. The high remuneration in tech roles makes IT freelancing a lucrative avenue for North Korea to fund its ballistic projects under the radar.

5. How is the intent behind North Korea’s cyber warfare different from other countries?
Unlike other countries that focus on espionage or intellectual property theft, North Korea’s cyber warfare is primarily profit-driven, aimed at financially supporting its nuclear weaponry production.

6. What can we do to stay informed about such threats?
Stay informed by visiting expert platforms such as Use their resourceful insights to remain cognizant of these emerging threats, and follow their guidance on adopting effective cybersecurity measures.

More info at:

North Korean hackers are targeting software developers and impersonating IT workers