SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A suspected North Korean organization hacked into the email accounts of dozens of officials, journalists and others in South Korea earlier this year, Seoul officials said Monday.
The organization sent phishing emails to government officials, journalists and professors who specialize in North Korean affairs to try to trick them into giving away their passwords, Seoul's Supreme Prosecutors' Office said in a statement.
The passwords for at least 56 of the email accounts were eventually leaked, according to the prosecutors' office. Seoul authorities were investigating whether any confidential state information was stolen but the prosecutors' office said there has been no reports that important information was leaked.
The email scams are the latest in a series of cyberattacks in recent years that Seoul points an accusing finger on rival Pyongyang. North Korea has denied the allegations.
Many of the alleged cyberattacks failed to infiltrate the targeted computer systems of businesses and government agencies. But in several cases, hackers destroyed hard drive disks, paralyzed banking systems or disrupted access to websites. One attack was so crippling that a South Korean bank was unable to resume online banking services for more than two weeks.
South Korea says North Korea has a 6,000-member cyber army dedicated to disrupting the South's military and government.
Troops of the rival Koreas have faced each other along the world's most heavily fortified border since their war in the early 1950s ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. North Korea conducted a fourth nuclear test and conducted a prohibited long-range rocket launch earlier this year, inviting worldwide condemnation and tough U.N. sanctions.