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South Korea claims North sent spyware
Published: 2008-09-04

South Korea became the latest nation to accuse a rival of attacking its computers systems.

In media reports published on Tuesday, unnamed South Korean officials claimed that North Korean hackers had apparently attempted to compromise the computers of several South Korean military officers. In the latest attack, a Trojan horse program had been sent to a colonel at a field Army command, according to a report by news agency Agence France-Presse.

Military officials are concerned that the sender of the e-mail knew the identity and other information about the colonel, according to a report in the Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper. Authorities have suggested that Won Jeong-hwa, a female refugee accused of seducing military officers to gather information, may have delivered the names of key military personnel to North Korea.

Security researchers said that such revelations will likely become increasingly common.

"As the people responsible for protecting IT systems from attack, we may have little respect for hackers and malware authors," Graham Cluley, senior security consultant at antivirus firm Sophos, stated on the company's blog. "But we have to increasingly recognize that the hands of our own governments may be less than lily-white themselves."

China has been implicated in a number of attacks against U.S. government systems, including those of certain lawmakers. Other nations -- including Germany, Belgium, India and the United Kingdom -- have also accused the Chinese of espionage activities using the Internet. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have held hearing over the increasing number of attacks and the state of the U.S. government's network defenses.

China is not alone. Germany faces criticism over its intelligence agency's use of software designed to spy on other countries' officials. Beginning in June 2006, Germany's intelligence agency -- the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) -- allegedly launched an information attack against the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan, ostensibly an ally, and before that against the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

South Korean officials refused to describe the extent of any compromises caused by the attacks, according to reports.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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