South Korean authorities are investigating a possible cyber offensive from North Korea, after leading media companies and banks reported that their computer systems had been attacked early Wednesday.
Leading South Korean broadcast stations KBS and MBC reported that hundreds of its computers were paralyzed, according to a New York Times report. The network managed to continue broadcasting mostly as usual, despite the disruption. Cable channel YTN reported similar outages.
Four South Korean banks reported simultaneous attacks on their computer systems as well. Shinhan Bank, NongHyup, Jeju and Woori claimed various levels of intrusion and damage to their networks. NongHyup and Jeju both said that computers at their various branches were frozen, after they were “affected with viruses and their files erased,” the Times reported.
Police in South Korea have not yet established a direct link between the widespread computer attacks and North Korea. But given that the offensive comes just five days after North Korea publicly blamed South Korea and the United States for cyber attacks that crippled computers in Pyongyang last week, all suspicions have been directed northward.
Frictions between North and South Korea have been especially prickly since the North issued a barrage of belligerent threats towards the United States and South Korea – including claims of a possible preemptive nuclear strike – after the U.N. imposed new sanctions against North Korea over its February 12 nuclear test.