Thursday, July 9, 2009

Is N Korea Behind Cyber-Attacks?

As South Korea says a third wave of cyber-attacks are hitting their infrastructure, North Korea is being tauted as the most likely suspect. The wave of DOS (Denial Of Service) attacks crippled South Korea's most popular banking website, as well as government-related sites, on Thursday, following attacks over the July 4th weekend which were reported to have even affected sites in America.

North Korean operatives immediately denounced the finger-pointing as an attempt at besmirching North Korea and Pyongyang's rule. They failed to mention how Pyongyang's or Jong Il's or someone's recent nuclear missile testing might have played into the whole thing. Some reports say North Korea even threatened a cyberattack on June 27th, but I failed to find articles to back that up. I did find threats of a more missile-y nature made earlier, though. No matter: officials have been worried about cyberattacks originating from North Korea for quite some time now.

South Korean officials admit there is nothing directly linking the communist country to the attacks, though some American officials have backed the suspicions as valid. Reports from a few years back showed that entities in North Korea were those who had most often visited and stayed logged-in to American military cyber-installations (websites, databases, et.al.) in the Koreas.

North Korea is said to have strengthened its cyberforces, having trained several hundred hackers in recent months. They may also be assisted by ally, China - though China also expressed displeasure at North Korea's recent missile launchings.

The recent "attacks" are Distributed Denial Of Service attacks which are actually pretty small-time, when one considers such things. While cyberwarfare is nothing like that seen in the movies or written about in Cyberpunk literature, DDOS attacks can be carried-out by moderately organized hackers with nothing more to prove than that they can actually do it. Infected computers are instructed to ping certain sites; this flood of requests slows, or even closes, the site. DDOS attacks do not penetrate, they merely deny access.

More sophisticated attacks would be expected of military-grade specialists. Even those using a patchwork network of Commodore 64s, Win 3.11 workstations, and a Windows 95 server.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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