From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.
North Korea is often seen as a poor country, cut off from the world and technologically out of date. But officials in South Korea have linked North Korea to recent attacks on computers and computer information systems, and they described the North's ability to carry out such attacks as world class.
South Korea's spy agency recently made the claims at a meeting with a committee of the South Korean National assembly. The national Intelligence Service(NIS) said North Korea has trained what the NIS calls a cyber army, these computer experts can affect the electronic communications and records of individuals, businesses and even governments.
The NIS described seven North Korean hacking organizations and the group of spies operating in China and Japan. It noted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says cyber warfare is just as important as missiles and nuclear weapons.
Seo Sang-ki is chairman of the assembly's Intelligence committee. He says North Korea established its hacking point in China because it just across the border has a highly developed Internet service and its activities can be protected.
He says there appears to be about 1,700 North Korean hackers and 4,200 supporting agents operating in China. That number, he says, is increasing. He says they earn money by developing software in China and perform hacking activities to collect national industrial secrets.
The NIS confirmed a report that North Korea opened the private documents of a South Korean IT company that was stored in China.
In October, South Korea's KBS TV reported that the attack may have been an effort to steal information from Seoul's computer networks.
Mr Seo would not name the company, and identified it only by using the letter "S." China usually denies the cyber attacks are launched from its territory.
Kim Hung-kwang is president of the group North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity. He says China knows that North Korean hackers launch attacks from inside China. But he notes that China has never arrested or expelled any North Koreans. He says that is why it appears North Korea is carrying out the attacks under China's approval.
North Korea is believed responsible for attacks earlier this year that affected tens of thousands of computers. South Korean officials say the economic cost was estimated at $800 million.
And that's the Technology Report from VOA Learning English. I'm Milagros Ardin.