North Korean IT technicians lie to get jobs in the West

Using fake names, fake LinkedIn profiles, fake resumes and mass-produced interview scripts, North Korean IT workers are tricking themselves into jobs at Western tech companies.

The news agency reports Reuters who reviewed leaked documents, interviewed a former North Korean IT worker, and international cyber security researchers.

The North Koreans take the jobs abroad secretly to earn money for their isolated homeland, requiring well-developed strategies to convince Western hiring managers.

Funds nuclear weapons

Reuters writes that North Korea has sent thousands of IT workers abroad to bring in millions to finance its nuclear missile program – and that the phenomenon has increased over the past four years.

“People are free to express ideas and opinions,” reads an interview script used by North Korean software developers, suggesting how to describe a “good corporate culture” when asked.

At the same time, residents who freely express their thoughts can be imprisoned in North Korea.

The script, which was about 30 pages long, was found by researchers at Palo Alto Networks. The American cyber security company discovered a so-called cache of internal documents online, which describe how North Korea’s remotely controlled IT workforce works, writes Reuters.

3,000 abroad

A North Korean IT worker, who recently defected, confirms the authenticity of the documents to the news agency. According to him, about 3,000 North Koreans are abroad under false identities, with jobs as IT technicians, and about 1,000 work from inside North Korea.

– We would create 20 to 50 fake profiles per year until we were hired. When I got hired, I would create another fake profile to get a second job, says the worker.

In October, the FBI and the US Department of Justice seized 17 website domains used by North Korean IT operatives to defraud companies and more than $1.5 million linked to them.

That’s how much they get themselves

The anonymous IT worker told Reuters that they were all expected to earn at least US$100,000 a year, of which 30 to 40 percent would go to the nuclear missile program and 30 to 60 percent to overhead costs.

Only about 10 to 30 percent would go to the workers themselves.

Data from identity investigation firm Constella Intelligence shows one of the workers had accounts on more than 20 freelance websites in the US, UK, Japan, Uzbekistan, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.