North Korea Suspected of Cyber Attack on Independence Day

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The suspected North Korea missile launch towards the United States this past 4th of July weekend may have come in the form of a computer virus. Starting July 4th and continuing throughout this Tuesday, various U.S. government websites were assaulted by a cyber attack.

U.S. government sites experienced problems making them harder to access, and some sites were overloaded with requests causing them to temporarily shut down completely.

The sites attacked include the Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission, and the Transportation Department. The Pentagon and the White House were able to easily fight off the attack, revealing how unevenly defended government sites are.

South Korea was also attacked this Tuesday, and many of the government agency websites there experienced problems as well. South Korean Presidential Blue House, Defense Ministry, National Assembly, Shinhan Bank, Korean Exchange Bank, and internet portal Naver were affected by the cyber assault.

According to South Korean officials, internet addresses of personal computers involved in the attack were traced back to North Korea. These personal computers were affected with a virus that commanded them to visit major U.S. and South Korean government sites at the same time.

However, it is not certain that the Pyongyang government was involved in the attacks. South Korea intelligence officials have stated that because the attack was so sophisticated, it was likely carried out by more than just rogue hackers.

But did North Korea really do it?
-The United States and South Korea were attacked; both countries are major enemies of North Korea.
-Internet addresses involved in the attack were traced back to North Korea.
-The assault was more sophisticated than assaults by individual internet hackers.
-Ironically, the cyber attacks began on Independence Day, the day North Korea was to have fired missiles at Hawaii.

Were the attacks conducted by the North Korean government, individual hackers, or another force we are unaware of? The evidence is certainly not in North Korea's favor. Thankfully, there was no report that the attacks involved confidential material, as all of the affected sites were open to the public. According to officials in both the United States and South Korea, the attacks were more of a nuisance than anything, but are still a cause for concern.


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