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North Korean cyberattacks confirmed in South Dakota

WASHINGTON, DC – South Dakota safety officials are looking into cyberattacks on state government computer networks from North Korean hackers after the Department of Homeland Security issued a report last week.

According to ABC News, the report details 142 attempted communications between North Korea and the South Dakota state network were recorded from September 2017 to September 2019. Among the attempted intrusions detected, DHS found 15 South Dakota addresses contacted by the same transmission point connected to the WannaCry ransomware worm that hit computers around the world in 2017. WannaCry was attributed to the North Koreans.

The report describes the North Korea hack as “sporadic but persistent.”

According to an intel alert reviewed by ABC News, “Based on an analysis of this and past communication traffic patterns by state network administrators, we assess that potential North Korean cyber actors may be using automated scanning and surveillance tools to attempt malicious communication with state-administered networks for unknown reasons.”

“Since late 2017, North Korea-associated IP addresses have repeatedly attempted to establish communication with South Dakota state network-administered websites and IPs, despite … being geo-blocked at the network perimeter,” according to a body of DHS field reporting derived from state network information.

South Dakota Officials have been alerted to the threat. In statement to ABC News, South Dakota Public Safety Secretary Craig Price says the state is taking appropriate action.

“We do not discuss specific cases for security reasons, but cyberattacks on South Dakota’s state government computer network are nothing new and not unique to South Dakota. Most importantly, there have been no intrusions. That is a credit to the state Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, the Office of Homeland Security and others who work on cybersecurity every day. We take all threats against our computer system seriously and we support Gov. Kristi Noem’s efforts to further develop the cybersecurity industry in South Dakota.”

Officials say all of those attacks were unsuccessful.

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