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(Yonhap Editorial) N. Korean cyber warfare emerges as 'existing threat'
SEOUL, April 11 (Yonhap) -- The outcome of an initial government probe has pinpointed North Korea as the highly-likely culprit behind the latest cyber attacks on South Korean broadcasters and banks.
On March 20, the websites and intranets of three broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN and three banks, including Shinhan, were paralyzed by overseas malware assaults. Similar attacks ensued against anti-Pyongyang and conservative civic organizations in the following days.
According to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, malicious codes that were traced were found to be identical to those used in major cyber attacks by North Korea in 2009, 2010 and 2011, disrupting the networks of state-run bank Nonghyup and the conservative daily JoongAng Ilbo.

   Twenty-two Internet protocol (IP) addresses detected also matched those used in the previous attacks. The hacking attack was conducted after about eight months of preparations, and at least six computers located in North Korea were found to have been mobilized to plant malicious codes into the networks and servers of the South Korean targets.

   All the cyber infiltrations are believed to have been masterminded by the cyber warfare division under the communist country's key military intelligence agency the Reconnaissance General Bureau. The organ is led by Kim Yong-chul, who spearheaded the torpedoing of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010, killing 46 seamen, and an indiscriminate artillery bombardment on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island in November that year, killing two marines and two civilians.

   North Korea is reportedly training thousands of elite future hackers, so called "cyber warriors," as part of efforts to beef up its asymmetric arsenal, including nuclear weapons, to overcome the gaps in the conventional weapons sector between the two Koreas. The hackers' skills are known to be highly sophisticated.
Now, North Korea's cyber warfare has emerged as a "clear and existing threat" against South Korea, which is vulnerable to cyber attacks as it is highly dependent on the Internet.

   It's clear that North Korea has persistently and systematically attempted cyber infiltrations into the networks of the country's key infrastructures.

   The government is scheduled to convene an emergency meeting later in the day to discuss follow-up steps based on the interim results of the probe announced the previous day. Fifteen ministries will attend the meeting.
The meeting is expected to work out comprehensive measures to raise private and public cyber security levels and counter future cyber terror. The launch of a cyber wafare unit and a cyber warfare command could be options.

   In addition, the ongoing probe should be continued until the culprit behind the March 20 attacks is finally confirmed with full certainty.

  (END)
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