South Korean banks hit with skull-flashing cyberattack

South Korea has been hit with a massive cyberattack that paralyzed two banks and three television stations.

All the affected networks—belonging to Nonghyup and Shinhan Banks, as well as stations KBS, MBS, and YTN, shut down simultaneously around 2:00pm Wednesday. The Korean Internet Security Agency reported that the screens of some affected computers began flashing three skulls.

Each of the five use the same Internet service provider, LG Uplus. A representative for LG Uplus stated that it was not distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, and “was caused by hacking.”

There’s no official word on who’s behind the attack—but a nation with the capabilities to pull it off did just threaten South Korea.

On Friday, North Korea accused South Korea (as well as the U.S.) of an attack that caused “all of the country’s websites [to go] offline at the same time,” and threatened retaliation.

The Koreas have a strong recent history of network attacks: In recent years, the South Korean government has accused their neighbor to the north of multiple attacks, including on another major bank, Nonghyup.  

“We can’t rule out the possibility for North Korea’s involvement,” a representative for the Defense Ministry announced.

A group calling itself the Whois Team also said it was responsible, though LG Uplus denied that claim.

At least one of the affected companies, Shinhan Bank, reported that its network was restored an hour and fifty minutes after the attacks.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Kevin Collier

Kevin Collier

A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.