PCM002 Podcast: Exposing North Korea’s Top Secret Unit 121 Cyberwar Squad

In this episode of the PC Mike Techcast, I reveal little known details on North Korea’s elite and top secret Unit 121 cyber army that is suspected of the massive hacking of Sony Pictures.

I report why this incident has sent chills down the back of Internet security experts and how a 1,800-member team of North Korean hackers operating from a Chinese hotel just over the North Korean border are hacking their way into numerous business and government computers across the U.S.

Plus we talk tech in helping a listener stop his computer from locking up, we share a great app that lets you transfer data between all mobile devices, and we discuss the new affordability of widescreen high-resolution 28-inch computer monitors.


Here are the shownotes for Episode 2:

Tech News of the Week

North Korea has formed Unit 121 to launch cyberwarfare  - HP photo
North Korea has formed Unit 121 to launch cyberwarfare – HP photo

The big tech story this week is the continuing drama surrounding the hacking of Sony Pictures computers. The U.S. now links that attack to North Korea.

The Sony hack is the work of North Korea, where  the elite North Korean Unit 121 cyber-warfare squad has been stealing secrets and attacking U.S. corporations and government agencies for years.

I expose:
– Where it is located
– How it operates
– What other countries have similar cyber-warfare units targeting the U.S

– How the capitulation by Sony has emboldened the hackers and will lead to cyber attacks on banking, the power grid, and other corporations.

This is the Chinese hotel just across the North Korean border where Unit 121 is reportedly headquartered  - HP photo
This is the Chinese hotel just across the North Korean border where Unit 121 is reportedly headquartered – HP photo

According to a white paper compiled by Hewlett-Packard researchers, the so-called ‘Hermit Kingdom’ may keep Internet access from the masses and maintain an iron grip on information exchange, but this hasn’t stopped the country from training up the next generation of cybersecurity and cyber-warfare experts. Approximately 1,800 hackers are in employ at the unit, conducting campaigns under the umbrella of what is known as the “Secret War” in the state. Unit 121 is suspected of operating out of a hotel just across the border in China, where reliable electricity and high speed Internet is available.

App of Week – A cross platform transfer tool

SHAREit is the world’s fastest way to share photos, apps and more across devices without network charges or Wi-Fi connection.

Lenovo SHAREit eliminates the need for cables to wirelessly transfer information rapidly between devices – either with friends, or to take your personal content on the go.

  • Share everything with other devices – pictures, videos, music files, documents, contacts – even apps (Android only)!
  • Devices with SHAREit can automatically find each other when in range.
  • Transfer HUGE files and videos in seconds – up to 60x faster than Bluetooth®.
  • Share without the need for Bluetooth, phone network or active Wi-Fi network – ou don’t pay a cent for network charges. Devices wirelessly connect directly.
  • Even the app itself can be shared to other devices wirelessly, and rapid sharing can begin immediately.

Main Interview – I can see clearly now with dual monitors

Marty Winston talks to us about monitors, monitor stands and 4K video
Marty Winston talks to us about monitors, monitor stands, and 4K video
Mike’s dual monitors on an Amer stand

In the interview of the week, I talk with Tech Expert Marty Winston, editor of Newstips Bulletin, about the affordability of widescreen computer monitors, how to mount them on your desk, and why everyone should have at least two monitors for the desktop computer.

Marty makes several recommendations. The 28-inch monitors he likes are:

Viewsonic VX2858sml Superclear LED monitor  $279 from Amazon

Vizio E2801 $259 from Amazon

Acer  B286HK Series 28-in monitor  $473 from Amazon

The desktop monitor stands he suggests are from:

Amer Networks AMR2S32 Dual Monitor Stand

Question of the week – A computer that keeps locking up

I answer a listener question about a computer that keeps locking up, offering suggestions on how to get things working right again. Chief suspects in such a case are outdated software and hardware. I urge him to update all his programs and make sure all his hardware is compatible with his Windows 7 operating system. Plus I make a bunch of other suggestions to improve his computer’s efficiency.

I need your help!

As we begin a new podcast like this, it’s very important to get a bunch of reviews to be able to show well in the iTunes listings. So if you can, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d subscribe and leave me your rating and review.

Here’s how:

First, open up the iTunes app on your computer or mobile device. Click on Podcasts on top
> From the iTunes Podcasts page, use the “Search Store” field up at the top right corner of the page. Type in PC Mike Techcast under the Podcasts category.
> Click on the logo image of the PC Mike Techcast on the search return page
> From there, you can:

1) Subscribe

2) Choose and Click on a star (1-5) that reflects your rating. Five stars means you really like it, one star not so much.

3) Leave a written review.

Thanks to all for the kind reviews we’ve received so far. I read and appreciate every review! If you haven’t left a review please do so. I will be so grateful!

And remember, you can appear in future episodes. Ask a question or voice your comments by clicking the Leave Voicemail tab on the right side of this page here at pcmike.com. You can then use the microphone on your computer to record your question.

Thank you!

Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the Roadtreking.com RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.