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Claims of North Korean Tampering with Indian Space Agency

North Korea: Reports have come to light that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was warned of a suspected cyber-attack during their attempt to conduct a mission to the moon in late September.  With the failure of that mission, it has many asking if the suspected cyber-attack was the cause for the mission failure. The IRSO stated that they had investigated the claims and found no evidence of an attack.  A spokesman for the ISRO has refuted these claims and stated that it would be impossible for an internet-based attack to compromise mission systems. The systems utilized for space missions by the IRSO are completely isolated from the internet.  This report comes close on the heels of the news of a cyber-attack on India’s nuclear authority.  Because the tactics utilized in the attack on the Indian nuclear authority mimicked the tactics utilized by North Korean hackers, many have suspected that North Korean was behind the attack not only on the nuclear authority but on multiple other government agencies.

Analyst Notes

If North Korea is behind these recent attacks on Indian agencies it would mark an unsettling change in focus from the hermit kingdom. Until recently a significant amount of North Korea’s focus has been on financial gain. Targeting infrastructure agencies indicates one of two possibilities from North Korea. Either they are attempting to steal information on how other nations manage their infrastructure in an attempt to bolster their own infrastructure, or they are in the process of probing control systems for national infrastructure in the hopes of causing disruptions internationally.