SK Police Raid Google Korea; NK Hackers Take Down SK Bank

Wow, it’s getting tough to run a website in South Korea. Between cyberattacks from North Korean intel agencies (possibly led by Kim Jong-il’s son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-eun) and the police raiding your offices to see who you’re spying onstalking … collecting data on, life is getting tough for webmasters in Seoul.

Police and prosecutors announced earlier today that North Korea was behind an April attack on the South’s agriculture bank and cooperative, Nonghyup, that locked 30 million people out of their bank accounts for “several days.”  The North’s “Reconnaissance General Bureau” (read: intelligence agency) reportedly entered through a laptop belonging to a subcontractor (the name of that subcontracting company? A little outfit by the name of IBM.) last September, stole over a thousand pages of documents, before finally wreaking so much havoc on Nonghyup’s servers that it took down the bank’s electronic banking system.

Hmm, not making IBM look very good. Nor Nonghyup.

The other main story, the police raid, took place at the offices of both Google Korea and Daum, the popular Korean portal site. The police were reportedly looking for illegally collected private data, mainly from smartphone users. Nice to see at least one country values personal privacy.

All in all, a rough day for IBM, Google, Nonghyup, and Daum, though it is nice to see at least an attempt to protect users’ personal data. Most worrisome is North Korean state-run hackers using IBM to bring down the electronic banking system of a major South Korean bank. These online provocations don’t (so far) get as much attention as military provocations, but they are becoming both more frequent and more capable. It doesn’t take a genius to see more of this is coming – are we ready?

UPDATE (10 May): In a report carried by both Singapore Press and the Voice of America, North Korea denied it was responsible for the cyberattack on Nonghyup. It called the accusation an “anachronistic anti-DPRK (North Korea) farce and charade.” All of which means someone in the North is monitoring outside media reports and was able to issue a formal denial within a week – not a bad turnaround time for the North. They are obviously following these stories closely.


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