BOSTON - Attacks that crippled South Korean government websites in July 2009 and again in March 2011 might have been cyber war drills conducted on behalf of North Korea, according to security software maker McAfee Inc.
That would make the South Korean attacks more menacing than recent attacks by hacker activists, or "hactivists," such as the groups Anonymous and Lulz Security. Those groups have temporarily shut down high-profile websites, including those of MasterCard, the CIA and NATO.
Hactivists attack as a form of electronic protest, but the attacks on South Korea were likely Internet reconnaissance missions to test the impact that cyber weapons could have in wartime, said Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research for McAfee Labs.
"This stuff is much more insidious and much more dangerous to national security than what Anonymous is doing," he said.