Cyberattacks hit Park’s, election commission’s sites

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Cyberattacks hit Park’s, election commission’s sites

A cyberattack rendered the National Election Commission’s Web site inaccessible for roughly two and a half hours on election day yesterday, preventing numerous Seoul citizens from finding their polling locations online. Independent liberal candidate Park Won-soon’s campaign Web site suffered a similar attack early yesterday morning, though it is unclear if the attacks were related.

The Web sites were hit with denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, which are coordinated assaults on Web sites to make them unavailable to users, according to the National Police Agency’s Cyber Terror Response Center.

“The Web site couldn’t be accessed from 6:15 to 8:50 a.m. after a DoS attack,” an official from the NEC said of the organization’s site. “Defensive measures on DoS attacks were taken straight away, but as it couldn’t resolve the problem, we diverted traffic to a cyber urgent shelter, which is provided by KT.” Once the traffic was diverted, users could access the Web site again.

Netizens fiercely criticized the NEC yesterday for being vulnerable to an attack “on such an important day as the Seoul mayoral by-election.” Numerous postings were uploaded pointing fingers at the NEC and even blaming the ruling Grand National Party for “either neglecting the Web site or encouraging the Web site’s inaccessibility to lower the turnout,” insisting that high turnout would be unfavorable for the ruling party.

One voter, Nam Moon-su, 32, tried to check his polling location online before leaving home but failed because the Web site was inaccessible.

“I can’t believe how neglectful the National Election Commission is in dealing with such cyberattacks, especially with the important Seoul mayoral by-election,” he said, adding that he had to spend 20 minutes looking for a piece of mail he had received a week ago from the election commission with a map of his polling station before managing to cast a vote.

Park’s campaign Web site, www.wonsoon.com, suffered its own denial-of-service attack from about 1 a.m. yesterday. The campaign warned potential visitors by posting a notice on its Twitter page at around 9 a.m.

“Wonsoon.com hasn’t been functioning properly on the morning of Oct. 26. We confirmed a DoS attack at around 1 a.m. and took preventive measures, but the attack is still continuing so we are transferring the Web site to the cyber urgent shelter,” the notice said.

Police are investigating the source of the attacks and are looking to determine if the Web sites may have been targeted by the same perpetrators.


By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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