Computer networks at two major South Korean banks and three top TV broadcasters went into shutdown mode en masse today, paralyzing a largely cash-less country and prompting speculation of a cyberattack by North Korea. Machines went down promptly at 2pm local time, with skulls popping up on the screens of some computers—a strong indication that hackers planted a malicious code in South Korean systems, authorities say. It took some two and a half hours for the first systems to get back up and running.
Police and South Korean officials investigating the shutdown said the cause was not immediately clear. But most fingers were pointed at North Korea, with experts saying a cyberattack orchestrated by Pyongyang was likely to blame. The shutdown comes amid rising rhetoric and threats of attack from Pyongyang in response to UN punishment for its December rocket launch and February nuclear test. (Read more South Korea stories.)