North Korea Suspected of Cyber Attacks on U.S.

Dennis Faas's picture

Just in time for the announcement that the National Security Agency (NSA) will be pervasively monitoring private networks comes news that cyber attacks attributed to North Korea paralyzed major South Korean and U.S. government web sites.

Eleven South Korean organizations, including the presidential Blue House, the Defense Ministry, the National Assembly, Shinhan Bank, Korea Exchange Bank and top Internet portal Naver, and coincidentally, eleven U.S. sites including the U.S. Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and Transportation Department, went down or experienced access problems between the July 4 holiday weekend and this past Tuesday. (Source:

The Pentagon and the White House were also attacked.

In May South Korean media reported that North Korea was running a cyber warfare unit that was trying to hack into U.S. and South Korean military networks in order to gather confidential information and disrupt service.

Is North Korea Hacking South Korean Networks?

Denial-of-Service Attacks (DOS) are still affecting the government web sites days after the unusually lengthy and sophisticated attacks began.

Seoul University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moo-Jin doubts that the impoverished North is capable of performing that kind of attack, but Hong Hyun-ik, a Sejong Institute think tank analyst says the attacks could have been carried out by either North Korea or China, claiming that he had heard North Korea was working hard to hack into the South Korean networks.

Some of the cyber attacks on the South Korean web sites were accessed from overseas, using a method that is common to Chinese hackers.

20,000 Computers Used in Cyber Attacks

South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) -- the country's main spy agency -- believes that a North Korea organization or North Korean sympathizers were responsible for the attacks but would not confirm the information.

According to South Korea's NIS, 20,000 infected computers -- 12,000 computers in South Korea and 8,000 computers overseas -- were used for the cyber attack.

Attacks Aimed at Paralyzing Web Sites

South Korea's NIS is cooperating with American investigators and believes the attacks were thoroughly prepared and committed by hackers at the level of a certain organization or state.

An initial South Korean investigation found many personal computers that were infected with a virus program that drove the computers to major official South Korea and U.S. web sites. So far there are no reports of similar cyber attacks in other Asian countries.

It appears that the attacks were only aimed at paralyzing the web sites. There are no immediate reports of financial damage or the leaking of confidential information. (Source:

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