July 9, 2010

Computer Virus Hits S Korea Again

South Korean government and private websites have been attacked by cyber criminals a year after a major attack crippled sites briefly both domestically and in the United States, according to officials on Thursday.

Five sites including those of the presidential Blue House and the foreign ministry were attacked Wednesday but very little damage was done, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said.

The attacks of July 7, 2009 distributed so-called denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that shut down 25 Internet sites for 11 hours in South Korea and 14 hours in the USA. The DDoS attacks re-occurred "exactly a year after later as some contaminated PCs were left untreated," the KCC said in a statement.

"However, no obstacles were created in getting access to those sites as the traffic from zombie computers was negligible," it said, referring to computers contaminated with a virus.

The commission told Internet service providers to urge customers using contaminated computers to erase the virus.

Authorities said 462 computers were used in Wednesday's attacks, just a fraction compared to the 270,000 computers affected by last year's attack. However, there could be follow-up attacks on the second and third day, the commission warned.

South Korea's spy chief has reportedly placed the blame on North Korea's telecommunications ministry for last year's attacks, although US officials reached no official conclusions, and other experts have more recently said there is no evidence pointing to South Korea's northern neighbor.

South Korean media reported that North Korea runs an Internet warfare unit aimed at hacking into US and South Korean military networks to gather information and disrupt service.