July 24, 2015 11:41
The number of cyber attacks against South Korea has surged after it was confirmed that North Korean hackers obtained leaked data from a top Italian hacking software company.
According to intelligence officials, a total of 17,000 cyber attacks were aimed at major websites operated by the government and other agencies as of 8 a.m. Thursday. At 9 a.m., the frequency surged to 35,000, and a total of 1 million took place over the whole day, averaging at around 41,000 per hour.
The Internet protocol addresses of the sources of the attacks were in Qingdao, Shenyang and Yanji in China. Other IP addresses were traced to Southeast Asia and even the U.S.
One intelligence official said, "Most hackers use proxy servers to launch their attacks, so it's difficult to pinpoint their sources. Most North Korean cyber attacks were made through other countries."
North Korea was behind a cyber attack against Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in December last year that immobilized five computers at nuclear power plants in Gori and Wolseong. They obtained reactor blueprints and other sensitive data and posted them online.
Between May and September last year, North Korean hackers infected around 20,000 smartphones in the South by disseminating the malware through bogus apps. The North has also apparently set up illegal online gambling sites to earn hard currency.
Cyber attacks are taking place around the world. Russia hacked into the U.S. White House computer network through the State Department's system and gained access to sensitive information, including President Barack Obama's itinerary.
According to a report by the U.S. Agency for Defense Development, China continues to launch cyber attacks against the U.S. to get hold of top secret information on American fighter jets, warships and missile defense systems.
But South Korea is ill prepared to deal with cyber attacks. Only two central government agencies -- the defense and foreign ministries -- operate special teams to deal with them.
In a government audit, only 34 out of 62 public institutions were operating special teams to deal with hacking. Experts say North Korean hackers are now as capable as American and Chinese ones.
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