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North Korea : cyber threat perception and metadata analysis Chah, Niel


Since the turn of the century, the increasing relevance of the Internet and non-traditional security concerns has been visible in the East Asian context. On the Korean peninsula, there have been starkly different approaches to cyberspace. South Korea, a developed economy and liberal democracy has made significant strides in adopting the Internet while its northern counterpart still remains largely unconnected. In such a context, this paper uses metadata and big data sources to delve into the American threat perception of North Korean cyberspace. Recent trends indicate that the American government and media have a growing interest in cyber security issues. As the target of historical North Korean cyber attacks, the United States should have considerable interest in the cyber attack capabilities of North Korea. A theoretical framework on threat perception is used to estimate that the American threat perception of North Korean cyber capabilities is high. However, an analysis of data that was collected with Python scripts and web APIs shows that the American government and media often associate the threat from North Korea with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles rather than cyber warfare. As a result, the use of big data and metadata technologies reveal nuances in the American threat perception of North Korea. For the United States, North Korea’s cyber attack capabilities should be seen as an emerging threat in objective terms, but nuclear weapons and missile capabilities still dominate in threat perceptions.

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