Jenny Town, a leading expert on North Korea at the Stimson Institute, revealed that a North Korean cyber group successfully impersonated her six years ago by hacking into her computer, CNBC reported
Speaking at the mWISE conference, organized by Google-owned cybersecurity company Mandiant, Town said the hackers, known as APT43 or KimSuky, used TeamViewer, a common remote desktop tool, to gain unauthorized access to Town’s computer.
They then ran scripts to search her device and turned on her webcam, presumably to see if she had returned.
It is believed that the hackers were able to steal information about Town’s colleagues, her field of research, and her contacts. Using this data, they built a digital clone of Town, which they used to collect intelligence from afar.
They used this digital clone to reach out to renowned researchers and analysts, impersonating Town. The hackers have also been linked to cryptocurrency laundering operations and influence campaigns, targeting other researchers and academics.
This tactic remains effective, although the increasing awareness has made it less potent than before. The most vulnerable victims are usually older, less tech-savvy academics who do not thoroughly check domains or emails for errors.
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