North Korea blamed for latest GPS signal jamming

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North Korea blamed for latest GPS signal jamming


A technician at a data-processing room in Jongno, central Seoul, checks a computer security system yesterday to take measures against recent cyberattacks on 40 Web sites, most of them run by government departments. The so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack last week caused a sudden surge of data traffic targeting sites in an attempt to temporarily shut them down. [YONHAP]

North Korea was accused yesterday of jamming mobile phones and other electronic equipment in the Seoul metropolitan area on Friday in an apparent effort to disrupt joint South Korean-U.S. military drills, military officials in Seoul said.

The disclosure came as concerns have grown over North Korea’s cyberwarfare capabilities. Last week’s cyberattack against South Korean government Web sites is also being examined to see if it had connections to the North.

The Ministry of National Defense said North Korea jammed global positioning system signals in the Seoul area on Friday, causing some electronic devices to malfunction.

Officials said some mobile phones and military electronics used in Seoul and the neighboring cities of Incheon and Paju suffered temporary disruptions at around 4 p.m. Friday.

“Analysis points to [North Korean] military bases in Haeju and Kaesong near the Military Demarcation Line as the two sources of the jamming,” said a South Korean military official.

The official said the North blocked GPS signals at intervals of five to 10 minutes.

The South Korean military believes the North used jamming technology from Russia.

Former Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said at a parliamentary session last October that the North, using the Russian equipment, is capable of blocking GPS signals within 50 to 100 kilometers (31 to 62 miles) of the point of origin.

North Korea’s motives could be linked to the ongoing Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military drills involving South Korea and the U.S.

The North threatened harsh action against the South prior to the join drills, which started on Feb. 28.

This is not the first time North Korea jammed GPS signals during a major military drill in the South. It is believed the North also tried to jam electronic signals during the Ulji Freedom Guardian drill last August.

The GPS cyberattack comes after another attack last week that temporarily disrupted the Web sites of the Blue House and other key government departments, including the Defense Ministry, Unification Ministry and the National Intelligence Service.

The “distributed denial of service” assaults on about 40 Web sites began on Thursday, although no new attacks were reported yesterday.

DDoS attacks are designed to shut down servers by channeling heavy data traffic to the target Web sites.

Last week’s attacks were similar to cyberattacks in July 2009 against dozens of Web sites in South Korea and the United States.

South Korean officials later said they suspected North Korea as the source.

Meanwhile, the Korea Communications Commission warned it has detected new types of malicious code, or malware, being distributed over the Internet.

Malware destroys data stored on hard disks and prevents the installation of virus protection programs, the agency said.

Such malware was found on file-sharing Web sites, including and

Computer users in South Korea can download a free program distributed by AhnLab, a computer security company, to diagnose and remove the latest malware.

By Moon Gwang-lip []

Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

북한, GPS 교란 공격…키 리졸브 훈련 방해 노렸나

지난 4일에 이어 6일 오전과 오후 북한이 위성 위치정보시스템(GPS)을 교란하는 전파를 발사해 수도권 서·북부 지역에서 수신 장애가 발생했다. 정부 당국자는 “지난 4일과 6일 서울과 인천, 파주 등 수도권 서·북부 지역에서 GPS를 활용한 휴대전화 시계가 오작동하고 통화 품질 저하 등의 현상이 발생했다”며 “조사 결과 북한 해주와 개성 지역의 북한 군부대에서 강력한 통신 교란 전파가 날아온 것을 포착했다”고 말했다. 북한의 GPS 교란 전파 발사가 포착된 직후인 6일 일산 등지에서는 휴대전화에 표시되는 날짜와 현재시각이 5일로 바뀌는 등 일대 혼란을 야기했다. 휴대전화의 날짜와 시간은 위성에서 수신하는 것으로 북한의 전자전 공격에 따라 휴대전화와 내비게이션 등 위성을 이용하는 민간인들이 일대 혼란을 겪은 것이다. 북한의 이 같은 전자전은 총참모국 정찰총국이 주관하고 있는 것으로 전해진다.

북한의 GPS 교란 전파는 5~10분 간격으로 간헐적으로 발사됐다고 한다. 당국자는 “북한이 200㎞ 범위를 교란할 수 있는 이동형 장비를 새로 들여와 실험하기 위해 전파를 발사했을 가능성이 있다”고 말했다. 우리 정보 당국은 북한의 전파 발신 시점에 주목하고 있다. 지난달 28일 시작된 한·미 연합훈련인 키 리졸브 훈련을 방해하려는 의도가 있다는 것이다. 훈련에 동원된 첨단 정밀 유도 무기들이 GPS를 이용하는 만큼 이들 장비에 영향을 주려는 의도란 얘기다. 이에 대해 군 당국자는 “군이 사용하는 GPS는 민간용과 분리돼 있어 영향이 없다”고 밝혔지만 피해 사실은 확인되지 않고 있다.

또 지난달 5일 조개잡이 도중 서해상으로 남하했던 31명의 주민 중 4명이 귀순하겠다고 밝혀 27명만 돌려보내겠다는 우리 정부에 대한 불만의 표시일 수도 있다. 앞서 북한은 지난해 12월 해병대의 연평도 포격 훈련 당시에도 GPS 교란 전파를 발사해 우리 군의 무인정찰기(SUV) 활동을 방해했다.

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