North Korea Steals Confidential US, South Korean Military Documents

Today’s topics include North Korea’s escalation of cyber-attacks; the Russian-linked “Don’t Shoot Us” campaign abusing social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election; Taiwan fining Qualcomm $773 million for anti-competition practices; and Google and Udacity’s launch of a web and Android app development scholarship program.

According to South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee, North Korea stole classified military documents, including war plans drawn up by South Korea and the United States, in an online attack last year. The classified documents were part of a massive haul of 235 gigabytes taken during an intrusion spanning the months of August and September 2016.

Attackers infiltrated South Korea’s Defense Integrated Data Center, according to The Washington Post, and stole data including war plans and a scheme to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the event of war.

Only 20 percent of the documents have been identified so far. The theft is only the latest in a long list of aggressive cyber-operations blamed on North Korea, who, with only limited internet infrastructure, has very little to lose from launching cyber-attacks and much to gain.

Facebook, Twitter and Google are not the only social networks Russian operatives used to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They went so far as to use the Pokémon Go gaming platform to plant fake news and ads in their efforts to rile up users politically, according an Oct. 12 CNN report.

The report claims a Russian-linked campaign titled "Don't Shoot Us" posed as part of the Black Lives Matter movement and used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and even Pokémon Go to spread its messages.

The "Don't Shoot Us" campaign became popular after the 2014 Ferguson, Mo., shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. It used social media to highlight alleged police brutality with the dual goal of galvanizing African-Americans to protest and encouraging other Americans to view black activism as a rising threat.

The Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts belonging to the campaign are currently suspended. And the "Don't Shoot Us" YouTube page, titled "Don't Shoot," has been removed.

Mobile chip maker Qualcomm is being fined $773 million by Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission, which claims the vendor is using its dominant position in the mobile baseband modem market to force competitors to agree to contract terms that hamper competition and drive up prices.

Given its position in the market, by not selling its baseband modems to companies that don’t agree to the conditions in its contracts, Qualcomm is violating Taiwanese laws.

Qualcomm officials disputed the Taiwan regulators’ decision and said they will “seek to stay any required behavioral measures and appeal the decision to the Taiwanese courts after receiving the [Fair Trade Commission’s] formal decision, which is expected in the next several weeks.”

Google and online education program provider Udacity announced Oct. 12 a new scholarship initiative for 50,000 aspiring Web and Android application developers. The scholarships will be open to U.S. residents age 18 or older at all skill levels from absolute newcomers to experienced developers.

Scholarship recipients will receive free technical training in either Web development or the Android developers program as part of a broader "Grow with Google" initiative that CEO Sundar Pichai announced last week.

Under the program, the company will offer free tools, training and events in a bid to help a wide cross section of people including job seekers, local business owners, teachers and developers become more computer literate and better prepared for jobs requiring modern technology skills.