North, South Korea Websites Hit By Cyber Attacks On War Anniversary
June 25, 2013

North, South Korea Websites Hit By Cyber Attacks On War Anniversary

Peter Suciu for – Your Universe Online

Official North and South Korean websites were reportedly attacked on Tuesday by unknown hackers on the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-1953), which divided the Asian peninsula. The coordinated cyber attacks prompted the South Korean government in the capital city of Seoul to issue a general cyber alert.

The affected South Korean websites include those belonging to the presidential Blue House, the official residence of the South Korean head of state. As of press time, the site was down. An official statement on the site noted, “This website is temporarily out of service due to a system check.”

The BBC reported the website of the presidential office was just one of several official and media sites hit by the Tuesday morning cyber attack.

“The government can confirm a cyber-attack by unidentified hackers that shut down several sites including the Blue House,” the Science Ministry said in a statement, referring to the presidential office.

AFP further reported 11 media outlets, four government agencies and a political party were among the affected websites. Some sites were operating normally but others remained offline into the evening hours -- local time.

Investigations into past attacks on South Korean media groups and financial institutions, as well as government sites, were believed to have originated from North Korea.

On March 20, cyber attacks shut down six South Korean banks and broadcasters, affecting 32,000 computers and disrupting banking services. South Korea had blamed the incident, which came during heightened tensions between North and South Korea following Pyongyang’s nuclear test in February, on its Northern neighbor.

North Korea has also been suspected of previous cyber attacks in 2009 and 2011.

What makes this particular attack unique, is that a number of North Korean media sites, including those belonging to Air Koryo and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, were also shut down by hackers on Tuesday, according to The Guardian.

Several Twitter users, claiming to be part of a global hacking collective, claimed responsibility for the North Korean website cyber attacks. The South Korea science ministry, which is in charge of online security, could not confirm whether those attacks were linked to the attack on the South Korean websites.

The hacking group Anonymous reportedly denied any involvement in the South Korean attacks via its official Twitter accounts. However, the hacktivist group has previously claimed to have hacked and taken down social networking profiles linked to North Korea as part of its Operation Free Korea.

In April, Anonymous hacked North Korean computers, stealing 15,000 passwords as part of its Operation Free Korea initiative. At the time, the group claimed they had hacked in North Korea’s intranet, mail servers and even Web servers.

North Korea meanwhile continues to rattle cyber sabers. The Guardian reported that it is believed the North Koreans train large teams of so-called “cyber warriors,” while the isolated communist nation has warned the South and its allies that it should brace for attacks on infrastructure and military systems.

This remains a concern because a cyber-Korean War would likely affect South Korea’s deeply wired society far more than that of North Korea, which largely remains offline.