N Korea denies cyber-attack on S Korea bank

S Korean prosecutors say the North brought down computer system of Nonghyup.

Updated: May 10, 2011, 22:19 PM IST

Seoul: North Korea`s defence ministry
today denied it carried out a cyber-attack on one of South
Korea`s largest banks, calling allegations that was behind
last month`s hacking "absurd" and a "farce".

South Korean prosecutors say the North brought down
the computer system of the National Agricultural Cooperative
Federation, or Nonghyup, by hacking into an official`s laptop
and operating it remotely as a "zombie computer".

In a statement to the official Korean Central News
Agency the North said Seoul`s accusation was "just absurd
argument based on unreasonable ground," and an "anachronistic
anti-DPRK (North Korea) farce and charade."

Citing an unnamed defence ministry spokesman, the
statement demanded Seoul "discard its bad habit of finding
fault with others", decrying the incident as "one more farce
staged against the nation."

The attack on Nonghyup, which has about 5,000
branches, left thousands of customers unable to access their
money for three days, prompting South Korea to demand its
rival stop "reckless cyber-terrorism".

South Korea said the North had planned the
"unprecedented cyber-terror" to wipe out all data in
Nonghyup`s computers using IP addresses and codes from an
overseas computer server identical to those it had used in
previous attacks.

Pyongyang, citing unnamed experts, said the IP
addresses came from the United States, Japan or South Korea.

The system crash that started on April 12 left
Nonghyup customers unable to withdraw or transfer money, use
credit cards or take out loans.

It temporarily deleted records of some of Nonghyup`s
5.4 million credit card customers, leaving Nonghyup unable to
bill customers or settle payments to retailers. Services were
partially restored after three days.

Seoul accused Pyongyang of staging cyber-attacks on
websites of major South Korean government agencies and
financial institutions in March this year and in July 2009.

The 2009 attack also temporarily shut websites in the
United States, but US officials did not reach a conclusion on
who was responsible.

Experts say the North maintains elite hacker units
prompting the South to set up a specific military command to
combat them. Intelligence officials believe some North Korean
hackers are based in China.