Members of the Anonymous hacktivist collective have threatened North Korea with cyber war if the country’s leader Kim Jong-un does not resign and install free democracy in the territory.
The threat was made in a message posted to Pastebin that also claimed that 15,000 membership records had been stolen from the website of North Korea's Kim Il Sung Open University, which is run from China.
The group’s latest initiative, called “Operation Free Korea” also demands that North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions and give universal and uncensored internet access to its citizens, say US reports.
Hackers claiming to be members of Anonymous say they have access to North Korea’s local intranets, mail servers and web servers. They are threatening to wage war if their demands are not met.
At the weekend, a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks were carried out against government-related websites in North Korea under the banner of the South Korean branch of Anonymous, according to InformationWeek.
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The Anonymous attacks and threats come amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula with South Korea and its US ally after the North’s latest nuclear test, but Anonymous said it is fighting for freedom and does not support the US.
“The American government is a target and enemy of Anonymous as well,” the Pastebin message said.
The threats also come two weeks after South Korea was hit by cyber attacks that downed thousands of computers at banks and media organisations.
The computer shutdown came just over a week after neighbouring North Korea accused the South and its US ally of carrying out cyber attacks against its internet servers.
While North Korea is usually the first suspect behind any attack against South Korea, no evidence has been published that links the attacks to the North.
Cyber security experts have said the investigation will take weeks, but it is uncertain whether the source of the attack will be identified with any certainty as attribution on the internet is extremely difficult.
For this reason, information security professionals have cautioned against anyone taking action in retaliation to cyber attacks based on IP addresses.