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SEOUL: The South Korean military raised its cyber attack warning level yesterday after computer networks crashed at major TV broadcasters and banks, with initial suspicions focused on North Korea.
The state-run Korea Internet Security Agency said computer networks at KBS, MBC and YTN as well as Shinhan and Nonghyup banks had been “partially or entirely crippled”. LG Uplus, an Internet service provider, also reported a network crash.
An investigator from the specialist cyber wing of the national police agency said the shutdown appeared to have been triggered by a “virus or malicious code”, suggesting a concerted hacking operation.
The Defence Ministry said it had raised its five-level “Infocon” cyber threat alert status from four to three. “We do not rule out the possibility of North Korea being involved, but it’s premature to say so.”
Officials from South Korea and the US began talks on how to beef up punitive sanctions against North Korea for its recent nuclear test. Talks between South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam and US Treasury sanctions chief David Cohen come days after the US imposed its sanctions on the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea, Pyongyang’s primary foreign exchange bank, and four officials responsible for the country’s ballistic missile programme.
North Korea, meanwhile, condemned training flights by nuclear-capable US B-52 bombers over the Korean peninsula as an “unpardonable provocation” and threatened military action if they continued.
The Pentagon says at least one B-52 has flown over South Korea in recent weeks as part of joint military exercises Pyongyang has denounced as rehearsals for invasion.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised a drone attack on a simulated South Korean target, Pyongyang’s KCNA news agency reported, and the armed forces shot down a target mimicking a cruise missile.
Meanwhile, China’s new President Xi Jinping told his South Korean counterpart that Beijing is willing to help reconciliation between South and North Korea, the foreign ministry said.
“China is willing to provide assistance to advance South-North cooperation,” Xi told President Park Geun-Hye in a phone call, acording to a statement on the ministry website. Agencies