Friday 19 October 2018

Russian games hackers posed as North Koreans

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-sook, White House adviser Ivanka Trump, and Kim Yong Chol of the North Korea delegation at the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. Photo: REUTERS
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-sook, White House adviser Ivanka Trump, and Kim Yong Chol of the North Korea delegation at the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. Photo: REUTERS

Julian Ryall in Tokyo

Russian hackers attacked South Korean government computers during the Winter Olympics, but made it look like the attack was carried out by the North, US intelligence agencies think.

As the Pyeongchang games came to a close last night, watched by Ivanka Trump and Kim Yong-chol, the North Korean blacklisted military general, it was reported that Russia had carried out the cyber attack in revenge for being excluded from competing in the games following accusations of doping.

During the opening ceremony, Russian hackers operating from the GRU - the Russian military intelligence agency - allegedly masked their IP addresses to make it look like their hack had come from North Korea.

Officials in Pyeongchang acknowledged that the games were hit by a cyber attack during the February 9 opening ceremonies, but had refused to confirm whether Russia was responsible.

There were disruptions to the internet, broadcast systems and the Olympics website. Many attendees were unable to print their tickets for the ceremony, resulting in empty seats.

As the games drew to a friendlier end, with a sentimental closing ceremony packed with K-pop and pyrotechnics, the North topped off its weeks-long charm offensive by apparently extending the olive branch to its sworn enemies in the US.

After sending athletes, cheerleaders and Kim Jong-un's own sister to Pyeongchang in an unprecedented diplomatic thaw, North Korea's delegation to the South also expressed willingness to talk to Washington.

Not everyone was convinced by the North's overtures, however.

The North Korean delegation was led by Kim Yong-chol - the head of the Workers' Party United Front Department and the man accused by Seoul's intelligence agency of masterminding a deadly 2010 attack on a South Korean warship - was met by protesters, who attempted to block vehicles from reaching the ceremony as the convoy crossed the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).

Around 100 right-wing politicians and activists staged a sit-in demonstration at the Tongil Bridge, according to broadcaster YTN, with the South Korean authorities deploying more than 2,500 police officers to control the protests.

To avoid a clash, the North Korean motorcade took an alternative route after crossing the DMZ.

The South's opposition Korea Liberty Party accused the government of "abuse of power and an act of treason" for shielding the North Korean vehicles from the protest.

On arrival at the ceremony, Ms Trump and Mr Kim did not speak. But South Korea issued a statement saying Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, met with a delegation from the North before the closing ceremony, and the North expressed willingness to engage in dialogue with the US.

The North has "ample intentions of holding talks with the United States," Moon's office said in a statement.

The North's delegation also agreed that "South-North relations and US-North Korean relations should be improved together", the statement added.

The White House gave lukewarm support to the idea, saying talks would only begin if it was clear they would lead to "the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, who attended the games as a member of the US delegation, said: "We will see." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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