Pyongyang Responsible for Cyber Attack that Crippled South Korea?

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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A cyber attack simultaneously took down three main broadcasters and major banks in South Korea on Wednesday, leading to speculation that North Korea may be responsible.

Around 2 p,m., the computer networks of KBS, MBC, and YTN and two banks, Shinhan and Nonghyup, froze. Shinhan reported to the National Police Agency (NPA) that their ATMs, payment terminals, and mobile banking in the South were also affected.

Staff at the three broadcasters said their computers crashed and could not be restarted. Their screens displayed an error message, but some reported skulls popping up on screen. The Internet Security Agency (KISA) said skulls would indicate a hacker used a malicious code.

According to an unnamed official the crash was caused by a "malicious" code, reports the BBC. Investigators are attempting to identify and analyze the virus.

Television broadcasts, government agencies, power plants and other potential targets were not affected by the attack.

Pyongyang is believed to be the cause of two other major cyber attacks in South Korea that occured in 2009 and 2011. Sources suggest that North Korea has a cyber warefare unit with "around 3,000 people handpicked for their computer literacy."

"We do not rule out the possibility of North Korea being involved, but it's premature to say so," Kim Min-seok, the Defence Ministry spokesman, said.

KISA reported 40,000 cases of foreign and domestic cyber attack in 2012 alone.

(BBC, The Guardian)