News / Asia

South Korea Probes Internet, GPS Disruptions

AhnLab Inc Customer Support team talk to customers on their phones at a call center in Seoul (file photo)
AhnLab Inc Customer Support team talk to customers on their phones at a call center in Seoul (file photo)

South Korea is investigating the latest high-technology assault against it. The attack targeted government computers and users of the GPS navigation system. It came as South Korea and the United States hold an annual military exercise that North Korea calls a prelude to an invasion.

Fifteen million South Koreans logging online Monday received an alert from the country’s Internet Security Agency. It instructed them to download a vaccine program to thwart a foreign online attack against Web sites of key government agencies and financial institutions.

Officials Monday said the government is trying to figure out who ordered the attack on the Internet sites last Friday and Saturday. Targets included the presidential Blue House, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the National Intelligence Service, South Korean military headquarters, the U.S. military forces in the country and several other agencies.

They were hit by what is known as a distributed denial of service attack. It was done by overloading targeted sites with Web page requests from about 80,000 personal computers infected with malicious software.

Suspicion as to who masterminded the attack falls on North Korea. But Park Kun-woo, a spokesman at Ahn Lab, a leading South Korean maker of security software, says there is no clear evidence Pyongyang orchestrated this one.

Park says nothing is certain at this point because malicious computer hackers tend to disguise themselves in various ways. It is clear, he says, however the attack did not originate in South Korea and was dispersed via a number of countries.

The National Police Agency says the attacks were routed through computer servers in numerous places, including Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Russia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Internet security companies say, as of Monday, more than 100 of the so-called zombie computers that were used to carry out the online attack have seen the contents of their hard drives erased by the malware that the computer owners unsuspectingly downloaded.

This incident did not last as long as a similar disruption over five days in July 2009, but it targeted more Web sites. Officials have said the 2009 attack was traced to an Internet protocol address in China used by North Korea’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Other attacks also have been traced to China.

Experts say North Korea has an Internet warfare unit that targets South Korean and American military networks.

Also Monday, the South Korea Communications Commission confirmed that interference to Global Position System signals on Friday came from a location in North Korea that was pinpointed as the source of a similar disruption last August.

The incident reportedly affected GPS receivers in military equipment and mobile phones as far south as Seoul. It also took place, as was the case last August, while a military exercise with the United States was under way here.

The U.S. military command in the country is not confirming whether the GPS jamming disrupted the exercise. A spokesman says as a matter of policy, the command does not comment on intelligence matters.

The Yonhap news agency quotes a South Korean defense official saying the GPS disruption did have a slight effect on military artillery units.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid