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Another wave of computer failures rings alarm bells

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Published : 2013-03-26 20:34
Updated : 2013-03-26 20:34

A number of government and civilian organizations experienced network and website malfunctions on Tuesday, unnerving government officials just days after computer networks at banks and broadcasters crashed due to cyber attacks.

Following the incident, President Park Geun-hye called for a comprehensive checkup on cyber-security of a range of civilian organizations including broadcasters, and telecom and financial service providers.

She also ordered for a more concerted effort in fighting cyber terrorism saying that related functions are spread among numerous organizations, making “systematic and efficient response impossible.”

“As it is an important national issue, the National Security Office should review the situation and draw up response measures,” Park said at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Early Tuesday, networks of seven regional administrations including Gyeonggi Province, Incheon and Jeju were paralyzed for about 80 minutes. The network failures experienced by the provincial governments were caused by switch malfunctions and were fixed completely, the Planning Ministry said Tuesday afternoon.

In addition, the website of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the websites of the cable news broadcaster YTN and its affiliates experienced errors.

Although the problem at YTN companies’ websites was initially thought to have been caused by a technical error, authorities continue to investigate without ruling out cyber-attacks.

The website and network failures were followed in the afternoon by suspected cyber-attacks against websites operated by North Korean defectors and media organizations specializing in news about the communist country.

Affected organizations include Free North Korea Radio, Daily NK and North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity.

According to the online news outlet Daily NK, its website saw effects of an apparent hacker attack from 1:40 p.m. Daily NK officials said that the attack appears to be coming through a U.S. internet protocol address.

The attack on the website of Free North Korea Radio, a South Korea-based radio service operated by North Korean defectors, is thought to have come from an internet protocol address in China.

The developments follow only days after the websites of major news organizations and a number of financial institutions were affected by attacks from hackers.

The authorities have yet to identify those responsible for the earlier attack that occurred on March 20, but the malware responsible is thought to have come from internet protocol addresses based in Europe and the U.S.

By Choi He-suk and Kim So-hyun
(sophie@heraldcorp.com) (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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