North Korea blamed for cyber attack on TV broadcasters
The computer networks of three South Korean broadcasters and at least two banks were paralysed yesterday in what appeared to be a coordinated cyber attack.
Authorities in Seoul were unable to pinpoint the cause of the system failures immediately.
The national security office declined to speculate on where the attack may have originated, although suspicion inevitably fell on North Korea.
"Reports have been made simultaneously, so we have dispatched investigators to the scene," said an official in the South Korean police cyberterrorism department.
National broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN reported shortly after 2pm that their computer networks had come to a complete halt.
Editing equipment had also been affected.
Shinhan Bank and Nonghyup Bank reported that their systems were affected at the same time.
Hours earlier, the South Korean intelligence agency accused their neighbours of carrying out intensive cyber propaganda attacks, designed to damage government policies and encourage widespread social discord.
An intelligence source said: "The North seems to think of cyberspace as a way to circumvent South Korea's anti-communist national security law, and as a viable weapon to hurt Seoul by spreading disinformation that can weaken public support for policies."
To date, Seoul has identified 442 sites and organisations that are dedicated to attacking South Korean interests through the internet, including Uriminzokkiri, the North Korean regime's main internet-based media and propaganda site.
This week, the site posted a propaganda video depicting a missile attack on Washington.
A study this month identified a number of key targets that North Korean cyber attacks were likely to focus on and called on the government and companies to be prepared for this form of provocation.
It highlighted concern that Pyongyang could simultaneously attack nuclear power utilities, traffic links, communica- tions, the military and other state infrastructure.
Yesterday's cyber attack coincided with meetings in Seoul between officials from South Korea and the United States on ways to enforce United Nations sanctions imposed on the North in the aftermath of Pyongyang's recent nuclear test. (© Daily Telegraph, London)