S. Korea seeks help on cyberattacks

SEOUL, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- South Korea is set to seek help from China to trace the origins of high-profile cyberattacks that crippled Web sites in the country and the United States last July.

"We are seeking help from Chinese authorities to launch a joint investigation," Defense Talk cited an anonymous police official as saying.


Seoul's decision comes nearly a week after Woo Sei-Hoon, chief of South Korea's main spy agency, blamed North Korea's Telecommunications Ministry for the attacks.

He said the IP address -- the Web equivalent of a street address or phone number -- that sparked the attacks was found to have originated from North Korea's Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

His remarks marked the first confirmation of North Korea's involvement in the affair using distributed denial-of-service attacks in causing outages to major Web sites in the United States and South Korea.

"After tracking down the routes of the DDoS attacks, we found a line coming from China," Won said.

He refused to elaborate, saying any revelation of details could "expose national strategies."

Suspicions that North Korea or a group loyal to it was behind the cyberattacks have been raised before. Experts believe South Korea's tight-lipped stance was attributed to China's involvement in tracking the attack and the possibility of exposing the extent of Seoul's intelligence gathering capabilities.


Chosun Ilbo, a Korean daily, reported that hackers "stole a password from the computer of a high-ranking South Korean military officer and used it to obtain classified information from the National Institute of Environmental Research, including the names of around 700 companies or state-run entities that manufacture toxic chemicals and some 1,350 types of such chemicals."

Korea is the world's leader in Internet connectivity, but that success affords fertile ground for cyber terrorists.

"Out of 35 million Web users in South Korea, 70 percent do not know whether there are vaccine programs to prevent a DDoS or hacking attack," Chosun Ilbo reported earlier this week.

In the July incident, attackers infected tens of thousands of "zombie" computers with a virus that programmed them to send a deluge of requests for Web site access.

Seoul's cyberattack fears from its northern neighbor have precipitated the creation of a specific military command. Local media say the unit will be operation by the end of the year.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Remington, commander of the U.S. Air Force in South Korea, called recently on Washington and Seoul to "take aggressive steps" in safeguarding their military computer systems against increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

Meanwhile, a recent visit to China by Kim Yang-gon, head of North Korea's Unification Front Department and longtime architect of inter-Korean relations, fanned rumors that he had met with South Korean officials in Singapore to discuss a summit between the two Koreas.


There was no immediate comment from either side.

Latest Headlines