Several government and media websites in South and North Korea were shut for several hours on the 63rd anniversary of Korean war, and Seoul said its sites were hacked and alerted people to take security measures against cyber-attacks.
It was not immediately clear whether the shutdown of North Korean websites, including those belonging to Air Koryo and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, was triggered by hacking. Rodong Sinmun, Uriminzokkiri and Naenara websites were operational a few hours later.
South Korean national intelligence service officials were investigating the cause of the shutdown of the North Korean websites. Pyongyang did not make any immediate comment.
Seoul said it was also investigating attacks on the websites of the presidential Blue House and the prime minister’s office as well as some media servers.
The attacks in South Korea did not appear to be as serious as a cyber-attack in March, which shut down tens of thousands of computers and servers at broadcasters and banks. There were no initial reports that banks had been hit or that sensitive military or other key infrastructure had been compromised.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible, and the neighbours have long traded accusations over cyber-attacks.
Several Twitter users who purported to be part of a global hackers’ collective claimed they attacked North Korean websites. Shin Hong-soon, an official at South Korea’s science ministry in charge of online security, said the government was not able to confirm whether these hackers were linked to the attack on South Korean websites.
Officials in Seoul blamed Pyongyang for the attacks in March and said an initial investigation pointed to a North Korean military-run spy agency as the culprit.
In recent weeks the North has pushed for talks with Washington amid soaring tensions on the Korean peninsula, culminating in Pyongyang making threats over UN sanctions and US-South Korean military drills.
Investigators detected similarities between the cyber-attack in March and previous hacking attributed to the North Korean spy agency, including the recycling of 30 of 76 malware programs used in the attack, South Korea’s internet security agency said.
The cyber-attack on 20 March struck 48,000 computers and servers, hampering banks for two to five days. Officials said no bank records or personal data were compromised. Staff at the TV broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN were unable to log on to news systems for several days, although coverage continued. No government, military or infrastructure targets had been affected.
South Korea’s national intelligence service said the North was behind a denial of service attack in 2009 that affected dozens of websites, including that of the presidential office. Seoul also believes Pyongyang was responsible for attacks on servers of Nonghyup bank in 2011 and Joongang Ilbo, a national daily newspaper, in 2012.
Pyongyang blamed its neighbour and the US for cyber-attacks in March that temporarily disabled internet access and websites in North Korea.
Experts believe North Korea trains large teams of “cyber-warriors”, and say the South and its allies should be braced for attacks on infrastructure and military systems. If the inter-Korean conflict were to move into cyberspace, South Korea’s deeply wired society would be more widely affected than North Korea’s, which largely remains offline.
Retrieved from Guardian