Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cyberattacks Hit South Korea

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cyberattacks Hit South Korea

Article excerpt

SEOUL, South Korea -- Computer networks running three major South Korean banks and two of the country's largest broadcasters were paralyzed Wednesday in attacks that some experts suspected originated in North Korea, underscoring the North's threat to cripple its far richer neighbor.

The attacks, which left many South Koreans unable to withdraw money from ATMs and news broadcasting crews staring at blank computer screens, came as the North's official Korean Central News Agency quoted the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, as threatening to destroy government installations in the South, along with U.S. bases in the Pacific.

Although U.S. officials dismissed those threats, they also noted that the facilities hit by the virus had been cited by the North before as potential targets.

The attacks, which occurred as U.S. and South Korean military forces were conducting major exercises, were not as sophisticated as some from China that have struck U.S. computers, and certainly less sophisticated than the U.S. and Israeli cyberattack on Iran's nuclear facilities. But it was far more complex than a "denial of service" attack that simply overwhelms a computer system with a flood of data.

Power failure blamed on rat

TOKYO -- The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said Wednesday that it had found what it believes was the cause of an extended blackout that disabled vital cooling systems earlier this week: the charred body of a rat.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said that when its engineers looked inside a faulty switchboard, they found burn marks and the rodent's scorched body. The company said it appeared that the rat had somehow short-circuited the switchboard, possibly by gnawing on cables.

The company, known as TEPCO, has blamed problems with the switchboard for the power failure that began Monday, cutting off the flow of cooling water to four pools used to store more than 8,800 nuclear fuel rods. It took TEPCO almost a day to restore cooling to the first of the affected pools, with cooling of the final pool resuming early Wednesday.

The blackout served as an uncomfortable reminder to many Japanese about the continuing vulnerability of the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown in March 2011 after a huge earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems.

Solar firm goes bankrupt

HONG KONG -- Suntech Power, a Chinese manufacturer that became the world's largest producer of solar panels by 2011 only to be battered by plummeting prices, announced Wednesday that its main operating subsidiary had been pushed into bankruptcy by eight Chinese banks.

Suntech was the Icarus of the solar panel industry, with production that soared year after year on heavy investment, as Western investors bought up its New York-traded shares and its international debt issues. Part of a massive Chinese government effort to dominate renewable energy industries, Suntech grew to 10,000 employees in its hometown of Wuxi and even set up a small factory in Arizona to do further assembly of panels there. …

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