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South Korean, U.S. networks still being targeted days after massive attacks

Days after systematic cyber attacks against government and financial institutions crippled computer networks in South Korea and the United States, additional cyber attacks have hit both nations.

Unlike the first wave of attacks earlier in the week, the U.S. State Department said its networks are still being targeted, but with lower volumes of attacks.  South Korean officials said some of its government networks are still being targeted, but also have noticed a dramatic decline in the attacks following July 4.

The botnet had at least 100,000 hijacked computers in South Korea, Japan, China, the U.S. and other countries, which makes accurately tracing the source of the attacks extremely difficult.

"The anticipated attack did take place, but considerable countermeasures were taken and it did act as a defense to some degree," an Ahnlab security firm official told Reuters.  Ahnlab also pointed out that "tens of thousands" of affected computers could have problems booting up, although other experts have not been able to verify that number.

Several U.S. federal agencies will now monitor popular online hacker hideouts, while security experts attempt to locate any digital fingerprints left behind in computer code.  The group responsible appears to be rather unorganized and possibly inexperienced, causing experts to note how a larger, more organized group may be able to cause a higher level of cyber damage to targets.

Security experts are now trying to figure out who is behind the cyber attacks, though early reports indicate North Korea may be behind the attacks.  China and North Korea were both immediately suspected of the attacks, but Chinese officials denied the accusations, saying there was no reason for them to launch so many attacks against South Korea.

The country, unlike China and other regions in Eastern Europe, reportedly have not launched organized cyber attacks, but this could mark its entrance into cyber warfare.

Moving forward, security experts are concerned the cyber attacks could spread from major computer networks to individual PCs, with hackers possibly hijacking them, then turning them into zombies.  If this truly is a cyber war, it appears there is very little the U.S. and South Korea can do against the perpetrators -- assuming they're accurately identified in the first place -- leading to other attacks from the same group.



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This will be end up effecting us all
By tmouse on 7/10/2009 8:26:09 AM , Rating: 2
I do not know where this will end up but I can see countries passing laws that would require ISPs to verify antivirus software with definitions less than 60 days old on the client computers before they get on the net (like many corporations do now with their own intranets). It will not stop this but it would put a dent in the number of machines available. Sure some countries will not cooperate, but they would see their own networks degrade more and more as they become the most available sources. If people would take personal responsibility for their own equipment this type of attack would be much harder to do. The more we expand what we want to do on the net and stress our infrastructure (since infinite infrastructure is not an option) the more these botnets will affect us all, whether you're a direct target or just being affected because your ISP is a choke point for a slew of these compromised systems.




RE: This will be end up effecting us all
By HostileEffect on 7/10/2009 9:07:31 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt a law requiring specific software on all computer would pass in America, it stinks like China. The state should not be able to force what software you have on your computer, and it most definitely should not be required for internet access.
If the ISP wants to require anti-virus on their own without any laws then that is all fine with me.


By tmouse on 7/10/2009 11:27:49 AM , Rating: 2
I did not say a specific software but a type ie: antivirus (any brand). Any law would probably just make the ISPs financially liable for any damage coming from their networks, that would compel them to enforce the presence of at least rudimentary precautions. It's not without its downsides but there will be downsides to any solution and FAR worse if nothing is done. Soon any group will be able to damage the cyber infrastructure of any developed nation. I see a lot of people mentioning "finding those responsible and punishing them" but the sad reality is these botnets use computers from all over and since there are countries that simply will not cooperate in investigations the trails stop cold. They may be involved but they may not and just be contrary. We watch too many movies and television where it looks like it is simple to track things across the net all around the world with pin point accuracy and this is simply not true. We will never be able to stop this activity but something must be done to make it less easy.


RE: This will be end up effecting us all
By FaaR on 7/10/2009 12:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
There are too many devices these days that are internet-capable but do not have/need antivirus software. Mandating AV on the ISP level thus wouldn't work, or else people couldn't use their PS3s, linux netbooks and whatnot online. ...Which nobody would accept of course.

What ISPs should do however is disconnect compromised PCs much faster than today. As soon as a PC is confirmed to be breached/zombiefied it should be locked out until the customer calls ISP support whining about not being able to get online, and then go through a mandatory cleaning procedure.

Zombie PCs aren't being taken NEARLY seriously enough right now. They're already a huge problem, and will become ever more so the more time passes; particulary if nothing drastic is done about it right away.


By tmouse on 7/10/2009 2:56:28 PM , Rating: 2
That's a good point, I was a little fixated on the PC problem, Of course baring imbedded apps like internet refrigerators and the like it probably would be wise to incorporate antivirus software into all net devices, since no OS is immune just under exploited. Game consoles are already used for distributed programs and these attacks are just another form so some a-hole will figure a way to use phones, game consoles ect to do this type of attack. Clearly portable devices would be noticed due to the loss of power but I know some people who leave their game systems on 24/7. Many of the exploits in software just take advantage of the functionality of the software and use it for unexpected purposes. As other net devices become more and more "multifunctional" they also become more susceptible to exploits.


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