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South Korea hit by large scale cyber attack

Disrupted broadcasters and banks
Wed Mar 20 2013, 15:46
Data security

A CYBER ATTACK has disrupted TV stations and banks in South Korea, the country's government has declared.

National broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN reported the disruption shortly after 2pm local time today, with their network systems having been crippled by the attacks. The BBC reports that staff at the three broadcasters experienced a locked error screen on their computers, which could not be restarted.

"Reports have been made simultaneously, so we have dispatched investigators to the scene," an official in the National Police Agency's cyber terrorism department told Yonhap News, saying it would look into the possible cyber attack.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Shinhan bank was also affected, bringing down its internet banking services and ATM machines.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC), South Korea's communications regulator, confirmed that "hacking of unknown origin" was responsible for the attacks. Its suspicions are that the attacks originated in North Korea, although a presidential official said that it had not been determined whether the country was involved.

Security firm Stonesoft's director, Jarno Limnell believes that if North Korea is responsible, the incidents could be dangerous.

"If North Korean agencies are responsible, this is the latest step in an escalation of cyber attacks made across the Korean peninsula in recent months," Limnell explained. "The choice of targets is telling of the trend that the chief candidates for attack are increasingly likely to be global financial markets and critical infrastructure systems, which if taken down have the power to cripple a nation.

"In today's digitally interconnected world there is huge potential for unpredictable side effects and collateral damage from aggressive actions. As such, fighting fire with fire is a dangerous tactic." µ


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