Jason Habinsky in CNBC: Inside North Korea's Scrappy, Masterful Cyberstrategy

12/19/2014

Sony Pictures Entertainment has canceled the Christmas Day release of "The Interview" amid threats of a widespread attack from hackers, who U.S. intelligence officials say were working for North Korea. But how does a poverty-stricken country with unreliable electricity even accumulate cyber-capabilities to level an international corporation the size of Sony?

North Korea is a totalitarian state with a per capita GDP of under $2,000, compared with $22,000 for South Korea. But while average citizens hustle for food and survival, North Korea's all-powerful upper class—with access to cash—has ramped up its digital infrastructure in recent years. The regime's elite cyberarmy has shrewdly learned to execute and recycle quick-and-dirty—yet effective—cyberattacks and malware to prey on high-level targets. They previously have included a bank, university and media websites, according to prosecutors...

The North Korean regime and Kim, believed to be in his 30s, are watching all of its enemies, including filmmakers. And the regime has responded deftly with its cyberarmy. 

"This is a huge wake-up call," says Jason Habinsky, a New York City-based labor and employment partner at Haynes and Boone, LLP. "Every company big and small is at risk now. This is like watching a thriller. Or a horror film."

Excerpted from CNBC, December 19, 2014. To view full article, click here.

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