Almost 1,000 North Korean defectors have had their personal data leaked after a computer at a South Korean resettlement centre was hacked, the unification ministry confirmed.
Furthermore, the personal computer at the state-run centre was found to have been “infected with a malicious code”.
Meanwhile, the ministry said this is thought to be the first large-scale information leak involving North Korean defectors.
As of this time, the hackers’ identity and the origin of the cyber-attack is not yet confirmed.
For Newsgru readers’ guide, the North Gyeongsang resettlement centre is among 25 institutes the ministry runs to help an estimated 32,000 defectors adjust to life in South Korea.
The North Korean government does not know the identities of all citizens who have defected.
Some may be considered “missing persons” or they may have even been registered as dead.
Some 997 North Korean defectors have now been informed that their names, birth dates and addresses have been leaked but it is not clear what impact this will have.
Analysts say there are some concerns that the leak could endanger the defectors’ family members who remain in North Korea.
Data expert Simon Choi, believes that this might not be the first time a Hana centre has been hacked.
“[There is a North Korean hacking] group [that] mainly targets [the] North Korean defector community… we are aware that [this group] tried to hack a Hana centre last year,” he told the BBC.
However, he added that it was not yet clear if any North Korean groups were responsible for the latest attack.