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North Korean cybercriminals spied on Russian missile manufacturer

Lazarus and ScarCruft have allegedly stolen information from NPO Machinostroyenia, Russia’s largest manufacturer of long-range missiles.

On August 7, 2023, cybersecurity company SentinelOne exposed a vast cyber espionage operation carried out by North Korea against Russia, two countries that are allies. Two well-known North Korean cybercriminal groups, Lazarus and ScarCruft, allegedly stole strategic data from Russian ballistics specialist NPO Machinostroyenia.

This company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of satellites, cruise missiles and intercontinental missiles, supplying the Russian Navy among others. In late 2021, Lazarus and ScarCruft infiltrated NPO Machinostroyenia’s computer systems. Following a period of observation, these groups began to extract strategic data. In May 2022, Russian cybersecurity experts spotted their presence, ending the attack.

“This research provides a rare insight into clandestine cyber operations that traditionally remain hidden from public view or are simply never detected by victims,” noted SentinelOne researcher Tom Hegel.

In the latter half of 2022, North Korea announced spectacular progress in its research into long-range missiles. In July 2023, it tested the Hwasong-18, a new intercontinental ballistic missile, its first to use solid fuels, an advanced propulsion technique.

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