(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 5, 10-11)
SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s internet safety watchdog said Wednesday a Chinese hacking group has launched a cyberattack against 12 South Korean academic institutions but it did not cause serious damage.
The Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) said the attackers hacked into the websites of 12 institutions Sunday, which included some departments of Jeju University and the Korea National University of Education.
Most of the 12 websites, including that of the Korea Research Institute for Construction Policy, had still been unavailable for access as of 2 p.m. Wednesday.
An official at the Ministry of Science and ICT told Yonhap News Agency the attacked institutions had a lack of cyber security and that the attack did not seem to cause a serious breach of personal data.
The Ministry of Science and ICT and KISA said they were cooperating with the National Intelligence Service and law enforcement in the investigation into the hackers.
KISA said the Chinese hacking group had warned of a cyberattack against multiple S. Korean agencies, including KISA.
But the internet watchdog’s site was not affected, it said.
The Chinese hacking group, identifying itself as the Cyber Security Team, claimed it had successfully compromised the computer networks of 70 South Korean educational institutions around the Lunar New Year holiday that ran from Saturday to Tuesday.
The group also warned that it will disclose 54 gigabytes of data it claimed to have stolen from South Korea’s government and public institutions.
The hackers’ group claimed in a Telegram chatroom that the cyberattack was “retaliation against South Korea’s suspension of short-term visas for Chinese nationals,” but whether the chatroom’s operator was actually involved in the attack was not known.
The group also said it carried out the attack because “some streaming Korean celebrity” had made them mad.
The science ministry asked government agencies and individuals to stay vigilant against rising hacking threats.
Science Minister Lee Jong-ho visited the Korea Internet Security Center the previous day to check on the security posture against possible cyberattacks.
The ministry said it was thoroughly monitoring the group’s activities to detect further possible attacks.