South Korea reels from “massive” cyber attack

South Korean officials are scrambling to restore order to its IT infrastructure today after a series of cyber attacks left a number of major companies and services with their servers down.

Three television broadcasters, KBS, MBS and YTN, and two banks, Nonghyup and Shinhan Bank, all reported that their networks had suddenly given way on Wednesday afternoon. Staff at the TV stations said their computers completely shut down and could not be restarted, while some claimed skulls appeared on their screens – suggesting the injection of malicious code rather than a denial of service attack as was initially suspected.

This assertion has been backed up an official “close to the investigation,” who told the BBC a virus was to blame and that researchers were currently in the process of analysing and identifying the threat.

Many in the country have been fearing cyber attacks from North Korea but the police have refused to speculate whether its neighbour is behind today’s incidents. They did admit the scale of the attack was considerable, however.

"We sent down teams to all affected sites. We are now assessing the situation. This incident is pretty massive and will take a few days to collect evidence," a police official said.

Security commentators have consistently predicted that 2013 will be watershed year in international cyber conflict, and superpowers including the US have already been bolstering their cyber arsenal in preparation.