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Asia-pacific

Cyber attacks target computers in S. Korea, US

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-10

Cyber attacks slowing US and South Korean websites could enter a new phase on Friday by attacking personal computers and wiping hard disks.

REUTERS - Cyber attacks slowing U.S. and
South Korean websites could enter a new phase on Friday by
attacking personal computers and wiping hard disks, a South
Korean government agency and Web security firm said.
 
North Korea was originally a prime suspect for launching
the cyber attacks, but the isolated state was not named on a
list of five countries where the attacks may have originated,
the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) said.
 
The attacks targeting dozens of government and business
sites in South Korea and the United States did not caused major
damage or security breaches, experts said, but the KCC warned a
new phase at 1500 GMT on Friday that could cause severe damage.
 
Leading South Korean Web security firm Ahnlab said data
stored on tens of thousands of affected computers could be
damaged.
 
"The affected computers will not be able to boot and their
storage files will be disabled," said Lee Byung-cheol of
Ahnlab.
 
Five countries named
 
The commission said host Web sites believed behind the
original attacks were based in Germany, Austria, the United
States, Georgia and South Korea.
 
South Koreans lawmakers briefed by the National
Intelligence Service said although North Korea was not one of
the list, Pyongyang was still seen as a likely suspects.
 
Internet access is denied to almost everyone in
impoverished North Korea, but intelligence sources say leader
Kim Jong-il launched a cyber warfare unit several years ago.
 
Some analysts questioned the North's involvement, saying it
may be the work of industrial spies or pranksters.
 
The attacks saturated target websites with access requests
generated by malicious software planted on personal computers.
This overwhelmed some targeted sites and slowed server response
to legitimate traffic.
 
The so-called "distributed denial of service" hacking
attack spreads viruses on PCs, turning them into zombies to
simultaneously connect to specific sites, unbeknownst to
owners, experts said.
 
U.S. officials would not speculate on who might be behind
the attacks but noted that U.S. government websites face
attacks or scams "millions of times" a day.

Date created : 2009-07-10

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