Shady North Korean government agents, a lone South Korean man bent on destruction, a secret rendezvous in China, a major airport, a pile of weaponized video games: They could easily make a great fictional spy thriller for the big screen – except that, according to a new report, they already happened.
The Korea JoongAng Daily says a 39-year-old South Korean began traveling to Shenyang in northeast China in 2009 to meet with North Korean government agents. The man, identified only as "Jo," bought video games he knew to be rigged with malware that, when played by the South Koreans they were sold to, triggered a series of cyberattacks against South Korea's Incheon Airport.
"When people played the games, the viruses used their computers as zombies, through which the cyberattack was launched," the JoongAng Daily said.
The malware embedded in the games set off denial-of-service attacks against Incheon Airport several times in March 2011, according to South Korean police, who said they were able to fend off the attacks at the time.
Police and intelligence agents also believe North Korea, and its weaponized games, caused a glitch in an Incheon flight data processor that disrupted the departure of 18 airplanes on Sept. 15 last year.
Jo was arrested June 3, according to the JoongAng Daily, and charged with violating the National Security Law. The government agency believed to be behind the games and the subsequent attack is North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau, a spy organization thought to employ thousands of hackers.