Fri, Jan 04, 2008 - Page 1 News List

S Korean military on alert following attacks by hackers

CHINA? The 'Chosun Ilbo' said investigators traced a virus to the PRC, but had not been able to confirm whether the Chinese military was responsible


South Korea's military has been put on alert against overseas hackers who have gained access to some soldiers' personal computers, the defense ministry said yesterday.

It did not identify the country where the hackers are based, but the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said it was China.

The Defense Security Command, which handles counter-intelligence, this week warned all military units to be on the alert against hacking, a ministry spokesman said.

"The alert was issued after the counter-intelligence command found `third-nation' hackers had successfully broken into some soldiers' computers via e-mails to steal private data," the spokesman said. "No military information has been leaked."

The South's military runs its own Intranet, usually disconnected to the Internet, and also has separate servers for processing confidential data, he said.

But the command instructed troops to keep no official data on personal computers and also to update anti-virus programs.

The spokesman said that hackers used emails entitled in Korean "Current state of the North Korean army's capabilities" to arouse the curiosity of soldiers.

The hacking virus starts working when the emails are opened.

The newspaper said military investigators traced the hackers to China, but failed to identify whether they are ordinary citizens or military personnel.

It noted that China launched a military unit called NET Force to carry out online warfare against enemy computer networks in 2000, with 1 million civilian "red hackers" operating in the country.

The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a state think-tank affiliated with the defense ministry, said one of its researchers had his computer hacked by a Chinese in 2004.

"The Chinese hacker took out private data, neither official nor confidential, from the researcher's personal computer while pretending to be a Korean e-mailer," a spokesman said.

South Korea is one of the world's most wired societies with 34 million people or 70 percent of the population using the Internet.

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