Why couldn’t it have been the television broadcasts, instead of a computer network attack?
Police and South Korean officials were investigating the simultaneous shutdown Wednesday of computer networks at several major broadcasters and banks. While the cause wasn’t immediately clear, speculation centered on a possible North Korean cyberattack.
The shutdown came days after North Korea blamed South Korea and the United States for cyberattacks that temporarily shut down websites in Pyongyang.
Officials at the two South Korean public broadcasters KBS and MBC said that all computers at their companies shut down at 2 p.m. (0500 GMT). The officials said the shutdown was not immediately causing any damage to their daily TV broadcasts.
The officials declined to give their names saying they were not authorized to speak media.
YTN cable news channel reported the company’s internal computer network was completely paralyzed. Local TV showed workers staring at blank computer screens, and at one coffee shop employees asked for cash, saying their credit card machine wasn’t working.
The state-run Korea Information Security Agency confirmed that computers at at least five South Korean companies were down. The agency was investigating what caused the outage.
Shinhan Bank, a lender of South Korea’s fourth-largest banking group, said the bank’s system, including online banking and automated teller machines, has stopped working since 2:20 p.m. Thursday. The company is unable to conduct any banking activities at bank windows to customers including retail banking and corporate banking.
The company does not know what caused the paralysis.
Immediate suspicion fell on North Korea.
There are rumors that North Korea has a special unit for exploiting and attacking other countries’ internet assets.
According to intelligence officials cited by South Korean media, North Korea is believed to have a cyber warfare unit staffed by around 3,000 people handpicked for their computer literacy.
The South’s military has a special alert level system called Infocon that reflects the current likelihood of an imminent cyber attack.
With military tensions on the Korean peninsula at their highest level for years following the North’s nuclear test last month, the Infocon level was recently raised from five to four — with one being the top level.
The Korea Internet Security Agency, a state watchdog, said it had recorded 40,000 cases of cyber attacks from foreign and domestic sources in 2012, up sharply from 24,000 in 2008.
But, what about white hats – or, black hats, if you think this is malicious? These attacks the last few days could be a well-designed plan to exploit the rivalries in the region and educate various agencies about the vulnerabilities in their systems. China, South Korea, and North Korea all blaming one another is a Keystone cop routine hackers would admire.