North Korea Stokes Fears of Cyberwarfare

The growing feasibility of cyberspace as a forum for aggression was starkly illustrated by a number of high profile attacks on South Korean firms on Wednesday 20th March.

Up to 30,000 PCs in the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, YTN,  and the Korea Broadcasting System, as well as at three major banks, had their hard drives completely wiped by an aggressive virus of as yet unknown origin. While long term damage to the firms’  interests was minimal, some security experts are warning that businesses will need to become increasingly vigilant to avoid such attacks in the future.

Firms perceived as having strong links or shared branding with a targeted nation state are being advised to be particularly wary

In the immediate aftermath of the attack suspicion perhaps unsurprisingly fell on the Republic of Korea’s bellicose northern neighbours. Further investigation, however, led experts working for the Korean government to point to the virus having originated on a Chinese network, although they later backtracked, suggesting that the infection had come from a system internal to one of the companies.
Researchers at Fortinet, which specialises in internet security, apparently disagree, suggesting that the attack bears all the hallmarks of having been government led. Experts are united, however, in stressing the increasing threat to business posed by online aggression. Firms perceived as having strong links or shared branding with a targeted nation state are being advised to be particularly wary, as it is assumed that as aggressive governments become ever more aware of the effectiveness of cyber warfare they are liable demonstrate their capabilities in this area with increasing frequency.

by Sam Jones

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