Sat, Dec 20, 2014 - Page 1 News List

No N Korean surge seen, amid hacking reports: ministry

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Science and Technology yesterday said it had not noticed a surge in the volume of incoming data transmissions from North Korea after several international media outlets linked the hacking attacks on Sony Pictures to Taiwan.

A number of international news outlets, including the BBC and NBC, yesterday quoted Washington officials as saying that they believe the cyberattacks were routed to servers in Taiwan to take advantage of faster computers.

The attack took place shortly after Sony Pictures announced the release date of The Interview, a comedy starring actors Seth Rogan and James Franco, who play two journalists-turned-CIA agents sent to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The cyberassault has resulted in many Hollywood celebrities’ personal information being leaked over the Internet — including social security numbers, e-mail exchanges, mailbox passwords and copies of passports.

Tsai Yi-lang (蔡一郎), project leader of the ministry’s Center for High-performance Computing Information Security, said that the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) had not detected any surge in the volume of incoming data transmissions from North Korea since the first attacks took place.

“North Korea does not have any outgoing underwater optic fiber cables. The only Internet access it possesses are land-based networks that it leases from China, so it is unlikely that it had access to Taiwan’s servers,” Tsai said.

He said that the US officials who expressed concern over Taiwan’s possible role in the attacks could have learned from Sony Pictures of Internet protocols (IP) coming from Taiwan, but that would not mean Taiwanese were involved.

“The alleged Northern Korean hackers could have incorporated virtual private networks or anonymity networks, for example by using the Tor project software — both are capable of displaying IPs originating from other countries to conceal their users’ real identities,” he said.

The use of botnets, a computer virus that enables hackers to command computers remotely, could also have given rise to Washington’s suspicions, he said.

Tsai said to avoid becoming the victim of botnets, people should not click on any suspicious e-mails or links on social media, including game requests and advertisements.

He said that the NARL would continue monitoring outgoing data transmission linked to Sony Pictures’ database and incoming data transmission surges from North Korea.

Meanwhile, the Executive Yuan’s National Information and Communication Security Taskforce yesterday said it was “still gathering information” about Washington’s allegations.

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