Cyberattacks timed for anniversary

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Cyberattacks timed for anniversary


Left: Anonymous posts a notice on the Twitter profile of a Korean member that it did not hack the homepage of the Blue House and it suspects that North Korea did.[Screen capture from the Web site] Right: The hacked homepage of the Blue House shows a phrase reading “Hurrah! Kim Jong-un, the president for a unified Korea.” [Screen capture from the Web site]

South Korean government Web sites including those of the Blue House and the Prime Minister’s Office were paralyzed by hackers yesterday on the 63rd anniversary of the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The homepages of the Blue House and Prime Minister’s Office were attacked at around 9:30 a.m. with various messages hailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and threats of more attacks.

For 10 minutes from 10 a.m., the main banner photograph of President Park Geun-hye on the Blue House Web site was replaced by a message in large red text stating in Korean, “Hurrah! Kim Jong-un, the president for a unified Korea.” It overlaid an image of a blue, undivided peninsula signifying a unified Korea.

On the upper left-hand side of the image was the message, “Hacked by Anonymous,” referring to the international hacking collective, but Anonymous denied it was behind the attack.

Korean text in smaller white letters said, “The attacks will continue. Wait for us.” In English, the message continued: “We Are Anonymous. We Are Legion. We Do Not Forgive. We Do Not Forget. Expect Us.”

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning issued a national cyberattack alert telling government offices and companies to take measures to boost security. The warning was a level three out of five.

Park Jae-moon, senior official of the Science Ministry, told reporters yesterday afternoon that 16 organizations, including the Blue House and 11 media outlets, had been attacked “concentrated between 10 to 11 a.m.” He said, “Only the Blue House homepage was altered, not the whole server.”

He said there were four cases of tampering with homepages, 131 cases of servers being down and two distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks discovered as of 5:30 p.m. yesterday.

Park said that the government and related agencies were “working to prevent the spread of damage and reviving [Web sites] attacked today and tracking down the cause.”

Web sites affected included those of the Chosun Ilbo and the ruling Saenuri Party.

The Saenuri’s homepages in eight areas, including Seoul, Gyeonggi, Busan and Ulsan were immobilized and there was a chance its members’ names and private information were leaked.

Anonymous declared Monday that it would mark the anniversary of the start of the Korean War with a large-scale cyberattack on 46 North Korean Web sites.

“We did not hack the Blue House,” Anonymous said yesterday via the Twitter handle @Anonsj.

Anonymous tweeted that North Korean government and media Web sites were hacked yesterday, including those of the official Korean Central News Agency, the online version of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, Chosun Shinbo, a North Korean newspaper based in Japan and state airline Air Koryo.

Internet monitors said North Korean sites including KCNA and Rodong Sinmun were down around 11 a.m. yesterday.

The Web sites of Rodong Sinmun and Uriminzokkiri were operating several hours later.

On March 20, a massive cyberattack tracked to North Korea immobilized major South Korean broadcasters and banks, and analysts are saying yesterday’s round of attacks on the South Korean government and media outlets did not appear as severe.

“Only the hacker knows if there will be a second or third round of attacks,” said Park Chan-am, a former hacker and security expert with Raon Secure. The culprits may be either “North Korea or someone who opposes Anonymous.”

“There is a high likelihood based on circumstances that this is North Korean hacking in response to Anonymous hacking, and we are investigating it carefully,” said an official with the Korea Internet and Security Agency.

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