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Watchdog extends probe into cyber attack on Nonghyup

All Headlines 10:51 May 04, 2011

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's financial watchdog said Wednesday it will extend its ongoing inspection into a hacking attack on the country's agricultural cooperative lender that crippled its online services last month.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) launched the probe at the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, or Nonghyup, on April 18 following the attack that North Korean hackers are believed to have masterminded.

The intrusion crashed Nonghyup's online services for weeks last month and the firm's feeble computer security maintenance drew heavy criticism from the regulator and customers.

The inspection, initially set to end on Wednesday, will be extended till May 12 to further examine who is responsible for the failure of online operations, the regulator noted.

"Inspectors will try to identify those who are responsible," an FSS official said. "During the inspection last month, the firm was found to have failed to properly manage its internal regulation."

The decision came one day after the prosecution concluded that Pyongyang's intelligence organization was responsible for the attack. Prosecutors also found that Nonghyup violated computer security control regulations in its maintenance of the key laptop used to control the overall computer systems and managed poorly confidential passwords needed to operate the security system.

"The FSS will conduct legal reviews to seek due accountability for those related to the incident," another FSS official said.

Meanwhile, several groups of Nonghyup customers are moving to file class-action lawsuits against the cooperative lender, citing massive financial damage and other losses that the weeks-long service stoppage caused.

One group of 1,600 customers that organized over the Internet said it decided to file a class-action lawsuit against Nonghyup and will soon hire a law firm to proceed with the plan.

As of Monday, a total of 1,385 complaints were filed with Nonghyup regarding damage from the crippling attacks, and 1,361 out of the total cases were settled with about 20 million won (U$18,632) paid out as compensation, according to Nonghyup.

Nonghyup's chairman said last month that "we will compensate customers entirely for any objective and apparent damage."


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