Cyber Criminals to Unleash Fresh Assault Against S. Korea, U.S. Sites

July 9, 2009

(ChattahBox)—South Korea and the United States are bracing for another wave of cyber attacks expected to be unleashed on Thursday, targeting government and commercial websites with denial of service attacks, which knock the sites offline.

The cyber criminals first launched attacks against U.S. government sites on July, 4 using a coordinated attack with a botnet of infected “zombie” computers, that cyber security experts are just beginning to unravel.

Beginning July 4, hackers were able to shut down U.S. government agency websites for extended periods over the holiday weekend, including the State Department, Treasury and Transportation, with problems continuing for many sites.

Numerous U.S. private sites were also attacked, such as the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, the Washington Post, Amazon.com and MarketWatch.

South Korea was hit with denial of service attacks on July 7, which paralyzed government and banking sites, including the presidential Blue House, the National Assembly, the Defense Ministry and seven banks.

South Korean officials are pointing their fingers directly towards North Korea, although there is no direct evidence that North Korea is responsible for the cyber attacks, but officials are not ruling it out. “It will take time to trace the origin of the attacks,” said Choi Hee Weon, a senior researcher at Korea Information Security Agency.

Meanwhile, cyber security experts have discovered that the attacks were coordinated by using a simple but effective method of emailing a virus to infect computers by turning them into “zombies” programmed to access targeted websites at a certain time.

According to the security experts with AhnLab Inc., the emails contained “Independence” as the sender’s name and “Memory of” in the subject line.

AhnLab programmers were able to break down the code of the malicious virus and discovered that it’s programmed to go off again on Thursday at regular intervals, starting at 6 p.m. Korea time, targeting dozens of websites in the U.S. and South Korea.

South Korea is particularly affected by cyber attacks, as its one of the most wired nations in the world, with about two-thirds of its citizens enjoying high-speed Internet access.

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