- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
- U.N. warns of Muslim ‘cleansing’ in Central African Republic
- Senate blocks change to military sex assault cases
- Drug mix may have cured child born with HIV, doctors say
- De Blasio’s wife irks former mansion chef with ‘servant’ remark
- Russia’s neighbors shiver amid Putin’s Cold War moves in Ukraine
- New SAT: The essay portion is to become optional
- Military group can’t march to honor the fallen at Boston Marathon due to security changes
- Senate passes bills deleting ‘retarded’ from laws
- China announces biggest military hike in 3 years: We are not ‘boy scouts with spears’
Cyberattack hits South Korea’s banks, media
Hackers hit South Korea’s top banks and TV broadcasters Wednesday in a sophisticated online attack that crashed computer networks, knocked bank websites offline and shut down ATMs for several hours — prompting widespread speculation that North Korea had launched a cyberattack.
Although ATMs were back online within a few hours and none of the broadcasters was knocked off the air, the attack highlights the vulnerability of computer networks — and the ability of attackers to strike anonymously and without warning.
Analysts noted that U.S. banks use security technology similar to that employed by their South Korean counterparts, and described the attack as a warning to the American banking industry.
Wednesday’s cyberattack, the largest against South Korea in at least two years, came amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and just days after North Korea had accused the United States and its South Korean allies of knocking several of Pyongyang’s websites offline last week.
North Korean leaders have ratcheted up their bellicose rhetoric recently. On March 11, Pyongyang said it had scrapped the cease-fire that halted fighting in the Korean War in 1953, though the two sides technically remain in a state of hostilities. However, the U.N. said that neither side can unilaterally end the truce.
Although the finger of suspicion pointed almost automatically at Pyongyang, one computer security specialist said there are clues in the malicious software, or “malware,” that point elsewhere.
“The attack probably originates in China,” said Jaromir Horejsi, a security specialist with the software company Avast, based in Prague. He cited Chinese terms used in the coding and the location of servers from which the malicious software downloaded instructions.
But clever hackers can leave so-called “false flag” indicators in coding and employ third-party computer systems to misdirect suspicion.
Jamie Blasco of the computer security firm Alien Vault in San Mateo, Calif., said the malware was designed to overwrite the so-called Master Boot Record of the computers that it infected — meaning the computers would not be able to restart and all the data on them would be wiped from their memory.
Employees at the affected broadcasters reported that their computer screens went blank and could not be reactivated, according to the BBC.
At least two of the affected banks reported that their networks were restored by the end of Wednesday. It was not clear whether the networks were restored because the computer memories had not been wiped or because technicians had replaced computers whose memories had been wiped.
“Many [U.S.] banks use the same technologies and strategic approach to data security” as the South Korean ones that had been attacked, he said. “This is like trying to fight today’s war with yesterday’s weapons: it is destined to fail almost every time.”
Al Pascual, an analyst with Javelin Strategy & Research, told American Banker magazine: “The issue with the South Korean bank hack that should really grab everyone’s attention is that complete bank networks were infected, which resulted in outages of online banking portals, ATMs and internal bank systems.”
A similar attack on U.S. banks “would have a deleterious effect on consumer confidence as it would limit customer access to account functions online, while also keeping them from withdrawing their funds as cash,” Mr. Pascual said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
- Senator's memo shows Iran links in Homeland Security's troubled immigration program
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- Dems back bill to fix problems in investor visa program
- Democrats proceed with Mayorkas vote despite pending investigation
- Game players don't think peace has a chance in Syria
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- DELAY: A revolution for the Constitution
- BRUCE: Obama's bizarre immigration rules
- Unemployment insurance vote could happen next week
- PRUDEN: Likening Putin to Hitler on Ukraine shows Hillary's shaky grasp of history
- Otter attacks, kills alligator at Florida wildlife refuge
- Calif. shop facing angry fire pulls 'smart gun' from shelves
- R-S-P-E-C-T: Find out what it means for Obama
- Back to the Future: HUVr Tech marketing video goes viral with hoverboard release tease
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again