Several South Korean and North Korean government websites came under
attack Tuesday, apparently by international hacking activists, on the
sensitive anniversary of the start of the Korean War.
Seoul's science ministry said unidentified hackers attacked several
government websites, including that of the presidential Blue House, as
well as some news media servers. It issued a cyber attack alert, warning
officials and citizens to take extra computer security measures.
In North Korea, several government-run websites also temporarily went
down, including the Korean Central News Agency and the Rodung Sinmun
newspaper. Pyongyang has not yet commented on the outages.
Members of the international hacking activist group Anonymous had
promised to use the 63rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War to
carry out cyber attacks against North Korea.
However, the hackers unexpectedly first targeted South Korean websites,
in some cases posting messages in support of North Korean leader Kim
James Pearson with NKNews.org, a website that monitors North Korea,
tells VOA that Anonymous is famous for such unpredictable behavior.
"Generally speaking it would be out of character for Anonymous to have
any sort of allegiance to any government, given they practice and preach
a form of anarchy," he said.
Pearson says Tuesday's attacks could represent divided loyalties within
the loosely associated hacking collective. Or, he says the South Korean
websites may have been hacked to justify similar attacks on the North.
"The most popular theory here at NKNews at the minute is that what
they've done is the same people have deliberately attacked South Korean
websites first in order to launch what would appear to be a
counterattack on North Korean websites," said Pearson.
any case, he says the attacks were likely carried out by what he
referred to as "bedroom hackers" and lack the complexity of a
coordinated cyber attack, such as the one targeting South Korea earlier
Seoul blamed North Korea's military spy agency for a March cyber attack
that affected 48,000 computers and servers, stalling operations at three
top South Korean broadcasters and hampering financial services at banks
for several days.
The South's Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) found the attack
bore similarities to previous hacking attempts by Pyongyang's
military-run Reconnaissance General Bureau.
North Korea is believed to have an elite cyber warfare unit that was
suspected of being behind computer attacks on South Korean government
agencies and financial institutions in 2009 and 2011.