Police are investigating what and who caused the state election watchdog’s website to crash for about two hours on Wednesday morning, keeping in mind the possibility of a so-called “distributed-denial-of-service” attack, officials said. The website of the National Election Commission crashed between 6:15 a.m. and 8:50 a.m. when many voters visited it to locate polling stations where they could cast their ballots for the by-elections for Seoul mayor.
Investigators suspect that the website crashed due to a “DDoS” cyber attack. The attacks swamp selected websites with massive traffic, using virus-infected “zombie computers” to launch simultaneous access to them. “Due to what appears to be a DDoS attack, problems intermittently occurred on the website. We are now trying to verify where the attack originated,” a government official said, declining to be named.
“It is now operating normally, but we’re taking steps with relevant government offices to fend off additional attacks.”
Meanwhile, the homepage of liberal opposition candidate for Seoul mayor Park Won-soon also crashed temporarily due to a similar attack, officials said. They said that the crash could have occurred as a massive number of his supporters tried to access it simultaneously on election day.
In recent years, North Korea has conducted a series of the DDoS cyber attacks that crippled a number of major South Korean government and business websites. In April, the North attacked the banking system of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, or Nonghyup, paralyzing it for several weeks.