North Korea Launches Major Cyber Attack
North Korea launched a major cyber attack that paralyzed the websites of South Korean and United States government agencies, banks and businesses. This is the first large-scale attack attempted by Kim Jong ll, the North Korean leader.
South Korea’s intelligence agency reported to members of parliament that it believes North Korea is behind the attack, which hit 25 websites on Tuesday evening, shutting some of them down for up to four hours.
“This is not a simple attack by individuals,” the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a statement. “The attack appeared to have been elaborately prepared and staged by a certain organization or state. The attacks consisted of massive harmful traffic to specific sites causing access slowdown or disablement. Some national institutions, banks and media sites have been targeted.”
The Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed member of parliament who said that the NIS had suggested that the attacks were the work of North Korea or “a pro-North Korean force”.
The statement said that South Korean and US authorities were working to identify the creators of a computer virus that apparently infected thousands of computers in South Korea and abroad, causing them to flood the targeted websites with traffic.
The simultaneous accessing by so many users overloaded the web servers, causing them to shut down – a kind of attack known as distributed denial of service (DDoS).
“Malicious codes which cause DDoS attacks have infected more than 18,000 personal computers,” a spokesman for the Korea Communications Commission said. Most of the websites had resumed service yesterday, but some pages were still inaccessible this morning.
Although South Korea has never reported anything on this scale before, the Prime Minister, Han Seung Soo, has warned of the danger of cyber espionage by Chinese and North Korean hackers.
If this week’s attacks are the work of North Korea, then the timing is significant. Pyongyang has staged a series of verbal and physical provocations this year, including the launch of an intercontinental rocket and an underground nuclear test, which suggest that it has abandoned expectations of negotiation with the international community in favor of whipping up nationalist fervor at home.
US sources say the denial of service attack on government Web sites are still being affected three days after it began signaling an unusually lengthy and sophisticated attack.