hacking reports-surge

SEOUL, March 24 (Yonhap) -- Hackers are posing a growing threat to South Korean society, as the number of hacking attack reports surged nearly 70 percent in 2012 to reach close to 20,000, or 54 per day, data showed Sunday.

The number of computer hacking cases reported to police by either an individual or a company reached 19,570 in 2012, up 67.4 percent from the previous year, according to the data by the Financial Supervisory Service, the Korea Internet and Security Agency and the National Police Agency.

The figure translates to an average of 1,631 cases per month and 54 cases each day, representing the highest tally in three years, the data showed. The number of cases reported to police grew by 3.7-fold compared with 5,333 cases in 2001.

The data came as hackers attacked computer networks at major broadcast media and five big banks here on Wednesday, paralyzing their systems and unnerving the country over possible cyber terror.

The authorities have launched a probe to find out the origin of the malicious code, currently giving weight to the theory that it originated from a local server, amid suspicions that North Korea is involved in the attack.

They said it has been found that the affected broadcast networks and banks had run their computer systems together, despite experts' repeated recommendation their internal and external networks be separately managed to reduce chances of hackers' invasion.

The most common form of hacking was the so-called "spam relay," in which a piece of malware gets into an e-mail server to make it send massive amounts of spam messages to others, blocking normal e-mails from being sent due to a hike in network traffic. This accounted for 33.5 percent of all cases, the data showed.

Other cases included methods such as modifying a Web site through malware, with 16.1 percent, followed by simple trespassing with 15.4 percent.

Individuals made up 64.4 percent of those that lodged a report to police, while companies accounted for 32.9 percent and the portion of other non-profit organizations came in at 1.7 percent.

In contrast, the number of arrests made on cyber terror crimes dipped 38.1 percent on-year to 6,371 cases in 2012, the data showed. The tally had stood as high as 17,000 cases in 2008, but it has been on a downtrend, since the means of cyber hacking have become much more intelligent and sophisticated, analysts noted.

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