Skip to main content

South Korea blames the North for cyberattacks that hit banks, broadcasters

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
April 10, 2013 -- Updated 1626 GMT (0026 HKT)
Members of the Korea Internet Security Agency check on cyber attacks in Seoul on March 20.
Members of the Korea Internet Security Agency check on cyber attacks in Seoul on March 20.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • It's the first time the South has officially accused the North of conducting the attacks
  • Seoul says the codes used were similar to ones used before by Pyongyang
  • The attacks last month infected thousands of computers at major companies

(CNN) -- South Korea accused North Korea Wednesday of carrying out a wave of cyberattacks that paralyzed the networks of major South Korean banks and broadcasters last month.

An official investigation found that many of the malignant codes employed in the attacks were similar to ones used by the North previously, said Lee Seung-won, an official at the South Korean science ministry.

Although some observers said at the time of the computer crashes that they suspected North Korean involvement, this is the first time that Seoul has formally pointed the finger at Pyongyang.

The allegations coincide with a tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, with the North making repeated threats of war. South Korean and U.S. officials have warned that a North Korean missile test could take place at any moment.

North Korea's war of words escalates: A timeline of the crisis

Meet South Korea's 'cyber warriors'
Experiencing a potential cyberattack

South Korea believes North Korea had spent at least eight months preparing for the cyberattacks, which also affected hundreds of individual citizens' computers and websites that cover North Korea, Lee said at a news briefing Wednesday.

There didn't appear to be any immediate reaction on North Korean state-run media to the South Korean accusations.

The main hacking attack took place on March 20, hitting more than 48,000 computers at the South Korean banks and broadcasters, authorities said.

It infected the companies' computer networks with a malicious program, or malware, that slowed or shut down systems.

The South's investigation found evidence including IP addresses and other elements used in the cyberattacks that it said proved North Korean responsibility.

The hackers routed the attacks through more 10 different countries, Lee said.

South Korea has accused the North of similar hacking attacks before, including incidents in 2010 and 2012 that also targeted banks and media organizations. Pyongyang has rejected the allegations.

DMZ: Tensions high at knife-edge of Korean conflict

Journalist Lee Hyun-pyo in Seoul contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Sources tell Evan Perez that U.S. investigators have determined North Korea was in fact behind the Sony hacking.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0148 GMT (0948 HKT)
Obama says people should "go to the movies" without fear, despite hackers' threats against venues that show "The Interview".
December 2, 2014 -- Updated 0035 GMT (0835 HKT)
CNN's Brian Todd reports on the hacking of Sony Pictures and whether North Korea could be behind it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
As the U.S. gets ready to blame the Sony hack on North Korea, a troublesome question is emerging: Just what is North Korea capable of?
December 9, 2014 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
A retired Silicon Valley executive and Korean War veteran was hauled off his plane at Pyongyang in 2013. Here's what happened next.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
A recent defector from North Korea tells of the harrowing escape into China via Chinese 'snakehead' gangs.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
CNN's Amara Walker speaks to a former North Korean prison guard about the abuses he witnessed and was forced to enact on prisoners.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0559 GMT (1359 HKT)
The chief of the Commission of Inquiry into North Korea's human rights says the world can no longer plead ignorance to the regime's offenses.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Kim Jong Il's former bodyguard tells of the beatings and starvation he endured while imprisoned in the country's most notorious prison camp.
November 10, 2014 -- Updated 1834 GMT (0234 HKT)
Christian Whiton argues "putting the United States at the same table as lawless thugs isn't just morally repugnant -- it's ineffective".
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 0543 GMT (1343 HKT)
Despite tense relations, China benefits from Kim Jong Un's rule in North Korea. David McKenzie explains.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 0851 GMT (1651 HKT)
North Korea has "the world's most advantageous human rights system" and citizens have "priceless political integrity", the country declared.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0852 GMT (1652 HKT)
Pro-wrestling, country clubs and theme parks are just some of the attractions North Korea wants you to see on a tightly controlled tour of the country.
ADVERTISEMENT