China Cyber Attacks South Korea
March 22, 2013

China Cyber Attacks South Korea

Yesterday I was checking on a few different things online when the breaking news hit that South Korea was being affected by cyber attacks. The attackers were able to shutdown Korea’s largest three broadcasters, and shut down three banks as well. To help put that in perspective, that would be on the same grounds as hackers simultaneously shutting down ABC, NBC, and Fox, and at the same time shutting down Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citibank – all in one afternoon.

I, along with many others, quickly assumed that this was the doing of North Korea, because North Korea has tried this before in the past. I think this it is completely reasonable to think that the North Korean government is behind this considering that the North Korean government has been threatening to start a nuclear war with South Korea and that their attack would be unannounced.

Apparently we were wrong; the attack has been tracked down to an IP address in China. China and North Korea are still allies; these actions do not bode well for the stability of the region. Unless the Chinese government can prove that they had nothing to do with this attack, and prove it was the actions of civilians. I find this unlikely since the Chinese government has very strict control over how the population uses the Internet.

My friends could not access Facebook while in China, and another foreigner tried to search the word freedom and that was blocked. 

Back to the news at hand, the three broadcasters that were affected by the virus were KBS, MBC and YTN. I previously stated that these are the biggest broadcasters in South Korea.  All three news agencies reported different levels of trouble containing the virus. The networks did not go off air, but YTN said that they could not access their editing equipment, which had been affected, and it expected to experience broadcasting problems.

The virus also shut down three of Korea’s major banks: Shinhan, Nonghyup and Jeju. This hits a little harder to home when your personal bank is shutdown. I use Nonghyup; it is the most popular bank in my region. It is like the Starbucks of banks in South Korea. In some areas you can stand on a corner and count three different Nonhyup’s from your point of view. A fourth Korean bank, Woori Bank, also reported that they were attacked, but they were “able to fend off a hacking attack.”

“The banks that were affected reported problems with a variety of systems, including Internet banking, ATMs and telecommunication services, and some branches stayed open late because of the slowdown,” the Yonhap news agency stated.

They have estimated that 32,000 computers and servers were damaged in the attack. This will cost millions to replace, and it does not account for the lost revenues involved in the virus attack.

“South Korea’s military stepped up its cyber defense efforts in response to the widespread outages, which hit nine companies,” Yonhap reported, citing the National Police Agency.

The stability of the region is very questionable now, but I believe it will get better in the near future.

Image Credit: karen roach / Shutterstock

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