Havoc ensued in South Korea yesterday when several major broadcasters and banks reported that their computer networks had come under a concerted cyber attack. According to Yonhap news agency, at least three broadcasters (KBS, MBC, YTN) and the Shinhan and Nonghyu banks reported that their computer networks had been paralysed.
YTN said that their company’s internal computer network froze and local TV showed workers staring at blank computer screens. Shinhan Bank (a lender of South Korea’s fourth-largest banking group) said their online banking service and automated teller machines stop working.
They were also unable to conduct any banking activities at bank windows to costumers including retail banking and corporate banking.
The state-run Korea Information Security Agency confirmed that computers at least five South Korean companies were down. The agency was investigating what caused the outage.
Who do you think the immediate finger pointing and blaming went to? None other than their less-than-friendly neighbor, North Korea. And it was all because North Korea blamed South Korea and the United States for cyberattacks that temporarily shut down website in Pyongyang just a few days ago.
In hindsight, the North was believed to be behind two major cyber attacks in 2009 and 2011 that targeted South Korean government agencies and financial institutions, causing their networks to crash. South Korea’s intelligence officials were cited as saying that the North is believed to have a cyber warfare unit staffed by around 3,000 people handpicked for their computer literacy.
Oh boy. It looks like their fight has been taken to another level, since North Korea and South Korea are technically still at war. Meanwhile, the South Korean police and officials are currently investigating the simultaneous shutdown.
A Chinese Internet address was the source of a cyberattack on one of the South Korean companies hit in a massive computer shutdown that affected five other banks or media companies, initial findings indicated Thursday.
It’s too early to assign blame – Internet addresses can easily be manipulated and disguised – but suspicion for Wednesday’s shutdown quickly fell on North Korea, which has threatened Seoul with attack in recent days because of anger over U.N. sanctions imposed for its 12th February nuclear test.
Experts say hackers often attack via computers in other countries to hide their identities. South Korea has previously accused North Korean hackers of using Chinese addresses to attack.