Kim Yo-jong, younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reappeared in state media on Friday after a 47-day absence during which, according to South Korean experts, she may have given birth to a baby, Efe news agency reported.
In photographs disclosed by North Korea’s news agency KCNA, the 28-year-old woman was seen accompanying her brother on one of his many inspections.
Kim Yo-jong’s last public appearance was on April 12, when state media took pictures of her along with the “supreme leader” during an inspection of the construction site at Sunan airport’s second terminal in Pyongyang.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) had then said that Kim Yo-jong was pregnant and would give birth in May.
The NIS also said that Kim Jong-un’s sister could be married to a student from her alma mater, Kim Il-sung University, North Korea’s most prestigious university and where nine generations of the elite Communist regime have studied.
However, Chinese sources have suggested that Kim Yo-jong could be married to the son of Choe Ryong-hae, secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
Kim Yo-jong, along with Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-chol, were all born to Ko Young-hee and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who died in December 2011.
North Korea’s insular regime goes to extreme lengths to conceal any information related to the Kim family.
For this reason, the only available data comes from photographs published by the country’s media and from external sources such as the NIS.
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.
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.
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)