Cyber Terror, maybe from North Korea, Scares South Koreans

The current state of the internet is bleak here in Korea, what with the recent ddos attacks and anticipation of a third “wave” coming soon. Amid speculation that North Korea is behind the attacks, a North Korean specialist said that the cyber attacks were conducted by a posse of North Korean cyber specialists who went to China to plant the evil seeds in June and return in time for the 15th anniversary ceremonies of Kim Il Sung’s death.

Munhwa Ilbo,¬† one of the six big daily newspapers in Korea, has a scoop quoting Ha Tae-kyong, head of North Korean Radio, which is a South Korean-based short-wave radio service for people in North Korea. [In North Korea, broadcasting is controlled by the government, so one can imagine the lack of diversity in programming] According to the article, Ha says that a high-ranking North Korean government official told him that Kim Jung-woon, the alleged heir of the current leader Kim Jong Il, initiated a posse of up to 10 North Korean cyber specialists to carry out this cyber attack operation. The North¬† had to send its agents to China because it doesn’t have a good enough infrastructure to do it on homeground. From big areas like Beijing, Shanghai, and Dalian,the cyber attackers routed their viruses through servers in other countries such as Singapore and Indonesia.

Ha said that the cyber terrorism was in line with the North’s nuclear experiments and missile shootings, and part of a strategy to solidify Jung-woon as the heir. It was not a coincidence that this year is the 15th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s death. (Il-sung is father of Jong-Il, grandfather of Jung-woon)

The funny (or perhaps sad) thing about this is that South Koreans didn’t even bat an eye when N. Korea fired those missiles or detonated what could have been a nuclear bomb, but this cyber attack has people terrified. Of course, the government is afraid that their “special technologies” and “secret information” will be leaked, but normal people (kind of including me) are concerned because the bank sites were down. All of Korea’s banks are wired and Internet/mobile banking is quite the norm. It kind of gets me worried sometimes because my assets are not physical, and I wonder what would happen if all electronic records were to be erased completely.

I know Americans don’t really care about what happens in other parts of the world, but because the attacks included several U.S. sites (including the White House and the Washington Post) some sites like have blocked access from Korea and are still inaccessible. I reported this inaccessibility on Herdict, which is a Berkman-developed site where people can self-report sites that are blocked.

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