Several broadcasters and banks in South Korea were hacked in one of the countryâ€™s largest cyber-attacks, and fingers are once again pointed at neighbors to the north, according to The Guardian.
The computer networks of KBS, MBC and YTN, and those of the Shinhan and Nonghyup banks were targeted in a simultaneous cyber-attack, which is still under investigation. While television networks were not seriously affected by the breach, ATMs and mobile banking in the South are still recovering.
Speculations are rising that North Korea could be responsible for the attack, with hacking collective “WhoisTeam” in â€œchargeâ€ of the assault. The group claimed this was only the beginning of a â€œmovement,â€ and showed images of skulls on computer screens they managed to control.
â€œWe sent down teams to all affected sites. We are now assessing the situation. This incident is pretty massive and will take a few days to collect evidence,â€ a police representative told Reuters.
Though governmental and military networks werenâ€™t directly targeted, the army raised its information surveillance status from three to four on a five-tier scale. South Korea also tripled the number of staff monitoring the situation.
At the beginning of the year, the country launched a program to recruit hackers and turn them into national defenders. The six-month training program called â€œBest of the Bestâ€ will give $18,500 as a prize for to the most-gifted hacker, and a strong recommendation to work in a company or a government organization.
â€œCyber attacks in general are getting more and more complicated. It is also known that North Korea is training highly skilled hackers,â€ Jung Soo-whan, of a Korean university, told CNN at the time. â€œBut what if they, for instance, hack into our nuclear power systems? We need a stronger defense system.â€
South Korean officials say the cyber-attack that paralyzed some 32,000 computers at six organizations came from China, according to the BBC.
â€œUnidentified hackers used a Chinese IP address to contact servers of the six affected organizations and plant the malware which attacked their computers,â€ said Park Jae-moon of South Korea’s communications regulator.
Because North Korea was previously blamed for cyber-attacks against the South in 2009 and 2011, the country was again thought responsible for the hackings.
South Korea continues investigations, as the IP address doesnâ€™t necessarily reveal the origin of the attack. Cyber-criminals are capable of routing their IP to any country they want to avoid being identified.