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SEOUL: North Korean hackers are becoming more aggressive than their Chinese counterparts, a leading US cybersecurity firm warned on Tuesday, as it identified a Pyongyang-linked group as an “advanced persistent threat”.

It was the first time that FireEye had used the designation for a North Korean-based group.

Analysts say the isolated and impoverished but nuclear-armed North has stepped up hacking operations partly to raise money for the cash-strapped regime, which is subject to multiple sanctions over its atomic weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

North Korea has previously been blamed for the WannaCry ransomware that briefly wreaked havoc around the world last year — an accusation it angrily denies.

FireEye said North Korean operatives had expanded their targets beyond South Korea and mounted increasingly sophisticated attacks, adding it had identified a suspected North Korean cyber-espionage group it dubbed “APT37” — standing for “advanced persistent threat”.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018