According to the NSA documents that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden made public, American spies connected to the Chinese and Malaysian computer networks that North Korea uses to connect to the outside, eventually connecting directly into North Korea with help from South Korea and other friendly countries.
The NSA effort included placing malware that could track a computer’s activities, along with signals and other software to check out what the North Korean hackers are up to. The NSA even has its own computer hacking department, the Tailored Access Operations in the Remote Operations Center, where employees work around the clock trying to infiltrate computer systems while tasked to protect the U.S. government’s computer system. Both White House and NSA officials have been pretty stealthy about what they do in the cyber universe, declining to comment about any kind of efforts to hack into another’s computer.
But there are no innocent parties on either side when it comes to computer hacking. South Korean officials estimate there are some 6,000 hackers in North Korea working for the North Korean Reconnaissance General Bureau, which also has an office in China.
Not only did Obama accuse the North Koreans of being behind the cyberattack, but he also promised economic sanctions and other forms of retaliation. It was an unprecedented move, because an American government had never before accused another government of engaging in a cyberattack against U.S. entities.