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North Korea test-fires submarine-launched ballistic missile

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By NewsGram Staff Writer
 
North Korea has successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a news report said.Pictures circulating in country’s media showed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un looking towards a missile shot out of water. The picture also showed red lettering on the side of the missile, which read as “bukgeungsong,” meaning “north star” or “polaris”.According to a report by a Xinhua news agency, Kim Jong-un hailed the newly developed missile as a “world-level strategic weapon.” It quoted the North Korean leader saying that the Korean military now possess a “world-level strategic weapon capable of striking and wiping out in any waters the hostile forces that infringe upon Korea’s sovereignty and dignity.”

The report stated that the test was carried out by a sub that dived to launch depth on the sounding of a combat alarm.

“After a while, the ballistic missile soared into the sky from underwater,” the agency reported.

A fully-developed SLBM capability would take the North Korean nuclear threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and the potential to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack.

Earlier this year, satellite images had revealed the conning tower of a new North Korean submarine, which according to US analysts appeared to house one or two vertical launch tubes for either ballistic or cruise missiles.

These analysts had also said at the time that developing an operational SLBM capability would cost a lot and it would take “years” for North Korea to achieve that.

Dan Pinkston, Korean expert at the International Crisi Group said, “If this is what North Korea claims it is, then it has come much sooner than anyone expected.”

“An SLBM capability would certainly increase the credibility of the North’s retaliatory threat, but I’d like to see what foreign intel says about this test,” he added.

While it not hidden that the North has been running an active ballistic missile development programme, expert opinion is split about its progress.

There have also been contrasting opinions on whether the North has acquired ability to miniaturize a nuclear device that would fit onto a delivery missile.

Last year in September, the Defence Ministry of South Korea cited intelligence reports that Pyongyang was perceived to be developing a vertical missile launch tube for submarine use.

The Ministry officials reported that the North’s 3,000-tonne Golf-class submarine could be modified to fire medium-range ballistic missiles.

In 2012, North Korea launched a satellite into orbit, which was condemned by the international community as a disguised ballistic missile test that led to tightening of UN sanctions.

This latest test of submarine launching ballistic missile was reportedly termed as an “eye-opening success,” which was at a par with the 2012 satellite launch.

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North Korea Hackers Target Think Tanks, Activists; Reveals Microsoft

By using forwarding rules, Thallium can continue to see email received by the victim, even after the victim's account password is updated

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Microsoft has revealed that a North Korea-linked hacker group has stolen the sensitive personal information of government employees, think tanks, university staff members, members of organizations focused on world peace and human rights, as well as individuals who work on nuclear proliferation-related issues.

Microsoft has now gained control of 50 domains that the group uses to conduct its operations, the company said on Monday.

With this action, the sites can no longer be used to execute attacks.

A court case against the hacker group, called Thallium, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, resulted in a court order enabling Microsoft to take control of the web domains, Microsoft Customer Security and Trust Vice President Tom Burt said in a blog post.

Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) and the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) has been tracking and gathering information on Thallium, monitoring the group’s activities to establish and operate a network of websites, domains and Internet-connected computers.

This network was used to target victims and then compromise their online accounts, infect their computers, compromise the security of their networks and steal sensitive information.

Most targets were based in the US, as well as Japan and South Korea, Burt said.

Like many cybercriminals and threat actors, Thallium typically attempts to trick victims through a technique known as spear phishing.

FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is shown outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash.
FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is shown outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash. VOA

By gathering information about the targeted individuals from social media, public personnel directories from organizations the individual is involved with and other public sources, Thallium is able to craft a personalized spear-phishing email in a way that gives the email credibility to the target.

The link in the email redirects the user to a website requesting the user’s account credentials.

By tricking victims into clicking on the fraudulent links and providing their credentials, Thallium is then able to log into the victim’s account.

Upon successful compromise of a victim account, Thallium can review emails, contact lists, calendar appointments and anything else of interest in the compromised account.

The hackers often also creates a new mail forwarding rule in the victim’s account settings. This mail forwarding rule will forward all new emails received by the victim to Thallium-controlled accounts.

Also Read: Actor Pankaj Tripathi Likes to Put Work Before Vacay Plans

By using forwarding rules, Thallium can continue to see email received by the victim, even after the victim’s account password is updated.

“You can protect yourself from these types of attacks in at least three ways. We recommend, first, that you enable two-factor authentication on all business and personal email accounts,” Burt said.

“Second, learn how to spot phishing schemes and protect yourself from them. Third, enable security alerts about links and files from suspicious websites and carefully check your email forwarding rules for any suspicious activity,” he added. (IANS)