Websites Crash on Cheonan Sinking Anniversary

      March 27, 2013 11:30

      Computer networks at 24-hour news channel YTN as well as South Korean websites of anti-North Korea organizations crashed simultaneously on Tuesday, the third anniversary of the North's sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan.

      It was the second cyber attack in six days here.

      That the crash affected the websites of Daily NK, Free North Korea Radio and National Action Campaign for Freedom and Democracy in North Korea, which have been the most vocal critics of the North, suggests Pyongyang was behind the attack.

      The YTN websites crashed at around 11 a.m. and were inaccessible for about an hour.

      "There is the possibility of hacking or an attack from an external source, and a detailed investigation will be required," a YTN spokesman said.

      A cyber response team from the Korea Communications Council and other civilian and military investigators does not believe YTN was the victim of a so-called distributed denial-of-service attack. Such attacks accompany surges in connection to a particular website, but that did not happen this time.

      A staffer at Daily NK said the website crashed from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. "We believe it was a hacking attack," the staffer said.

      Free North Korea Radio's website was inaccessible from 1:40 p.m. It is run by opponents of the North Korean regime and offers detailed coverage of the North.

      But the latest incident involved merely problems accessing websites and was not as devastating as the network crashes that happened last Wednesday, which crippled computer networks and individual PCs by destroying their booting programs.

      A government network that connects government agencies and regional governments also crashed for about an hour starting at 10:50 a.m., but the reason was likely a problem with the computer hardware. Around 700 government agencies rely on the network.

      Most of it was restored at around 11:30 a.m., except for South Jeolla Province, which returned to normal around noon.

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