Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un

Spotlight Podcast: Why North Korean Summit won’t End Hacking Threat

In this Spotlight Podcast, Jon Condra, the Director of Asia Pacific Research at Flashpoint talks about why U.S. President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un won’t put an end to North Korea’s online predation. That is just one conclusion in Flashpoint’s semi yearly Business Risk Intelligence Report. 

Fresh off a buddy-buddy meeting with Kim Jong Un, the murderous leader of North Korea, the Trump Administration moved this week to abandon the UN Human Rights Council even as President Donald Trump launched withering online criticism of the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. These bizarre twists and turns are just the latest evidence that we are in unprecedented times. Longtime friends have become adversaries, if not enemies. Longtime enemies…we’ll, they’re our enemies, too.

How did we get here? Central to the unsettling of the global order are the growing ranks of nation-backed hackers and their legions of fellow travelers including online influencers, trolls, conspiracy theories and rabble rousers. Online actions – including hacks and other influence operations – have moved to the forefront of nations’ arsenals, becoming one of the most reliable and surgical tools of geopolitical influence.

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These events beg the question of what lays ahead for world. How will the unsettling of the global order play out online? What impact will geopolitics – as expressed online – have on the countless businesses and organizations who do business on the Internet? That’s what the Flashpoint Business Risk Intelligence (BRI) Decisions Report tries to answer. The semi annual report takes the measure of nation-backed hacking as well as cybercriminals, hacktivists and other online threats.

[See also: Spotlight Podcast: Is Russia rethinking its Cyber Offense?]

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un
The US-North Korea Summit is unlikely to end DPRK hacking, according to Flashpoint

In this special spotlight podcast, we dig into the latest BRI with Jon Condra, Flashpoint’s Director of Asia Pacific Research at Flashpoint. Jon said that the rapprochement with DPRK shouldn’t give people confidence that the online operations of these nations will cease, even if large scale attacks are less likely.

For one thing, North Korea’s cash-strapped government expects different military units to support their own operations. In the case of the North’s cyber units, that has prompted a steady stream of attacks on crypto currency exchanges, particularly those operating out of South Korea, Condra said.

Easing tensions with the South and the U.S. are unlikely to change that activity, even if they make large scale DPRK attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure less likely.

You can listen to our full conversation, where Jon and I discuss Russia’s changing profile online and what we can expect ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November.