Two dozen U.S. and South Korean government websites were attacked in early July. Malicious programs were found to have targeted 26 websites, including that of the White House, as well as the South Korean presidential office, legislature, and ministry of defense. The cyber attackers utilized a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) approach to overwhelm the websites with data to impede or disable service.
If Pyongyang were behind the recent cyber attacks, it would mark another escalation in North Korean provocations against Washington and Seoul. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service stated that such a coordinated attack was likely the work of a large organization or state. The NIS suspected North Korea or pro-North Korean supporters, but currently has no hard evidence. Despite North Korea’s low levels of computer technology and internet connectivity, Pyongyang has an extensive and capable cyber terrorism effort to provide asymmetric attack capabilities.
South Korea’s National Assembly Defense Committee disclosed in 2008 that North Korea had created in 1998 “Unit 121,” a military organization with 500 – 1000 skilled computer hackers. In July 2006, A South Korean military official stated that Unit 121 had hacked into the South Korean and US Defense Department and caused much damage. In October 2007, North Korea tested a “logic bomb” containing malicious codes designed to be implemented should certain events occur or at a predetermined time. In October 2008, South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo stated that cyber threats from China and North Korea were “very serious” and called on the cabinet to take appropriate action.