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The Axis of Hack-sis?

Recent events are bearing out the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, delivered to Congress in February by the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, which pointed a finger at Russia, Iran and North Korea as states that are using cyber operations as a low-cost tool of statecraft to achieve strategic objectives.

Amid rumblings that another cyber attack from North Korea is imminent, an article in Scientific American explores how the North Korean cyber threat is different from others we are seeing, particularly in that it appears to be fully state-sponsored and that its purpose is to steal money to support the cash-strapped government, which is under increasing sanctions. And this article in Wired magazine notes that “even as the Kim regime was making nice with South Korea ahead of the Olympics games … it also rekindled a brazen cybercrime campaign that has stolen millions of dollars from South Korean banks and bitcoin firms.”

Meanwhile, an alert issued recently by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI said that Russian government hackers have targeted "government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors" including the U.S. electric grid, water processing plants, and air transportation facilities.  And, in another recent development, nine Iranian nationals and one Iranian entity were sanctioned by the U.S. and charged with hacking into hundreds of universities and other organizations on behalf of Iran’s government.

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