(Repeats to remove extraneous word from headline)
By Jack Kim
SEOUL, March 15 North Korea, usually blamed for
hacking others, has accused the United States of staging cyber
attacks against its Internet servers after reports of
disruptions to its main news services, the latest twist from an
increasingly bellicose North.
Russia's Itar-Tass news agency said a "powerful hacker
attack" from abroad had brought down Internet servers inside the
North, disabling access to some websites.
The accusation comes at a time of increased tension between
reclusive North Korea and South Korea, along with the South's
ally the United States.
The North has threatened a nuclear war with the United
States in response to new United Nations sanctions over its
latest nuclear test and to strike back at the South and the
United States during military drills they are staging.
South Korea's MBC television said the North's state media
services were among those affected by the cyber attack.
These included the websites of the KCNA news agency and the
official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, which were said to be
experiencing disruptions even though they were operating
normally on Thursday and Friday.
"It is nobody's secret that the U.S. and the South Korean
puppet regime are massively bolstering up cyber forces in a bid
to intensify the subversive activities and sabotages against the
DPRK," KCNA said on Friday.
"Intensive and persistent virus attacks are being made every
day on Internet servers operated by the DPRK," it said.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK, is the
North's official name.
KCNA and Rodong Sinmun have carried the North's increasingly
strident rhetoric of late, accusing the United States and South
Korea of staging preparations for war and vowing to scrap the
armistice that stopped fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North has also threatened to use nuclear weapons against
what it called hostile forces.
North Korea in turn has been blamed for spreading malicious
software that crashed the websites of government agencies and
businesses, and for a cyber attack on a South Korean state-run
bank server in 2011 that took more than a week to restore.
North Korea denies charges of cyber attacks and accuses the
South of a conspiracy to fuel confrontation, although defectors
from the North have warned that Pyongyang was recruiting
thousands of computer engineers to its cyber warfare unit.
Military experts said cyber warfare was a major threat from
North Korea, along with its conventional forces and its weapons
of mass destruction programme, that posed a security risk to
utilities and communications networks in the South.
North Korea also has been accused of jamming global
positioning system signals affecting hundreds of flights at
South Korea's main airport.
Earlier this week, U.S. spy agencies said for the first time
that cyber attacks and cyber espionage had supplanted terrorism
as the top security threat facing the United States.
The United States and China also are embroiled in a row over
cyber warfare, with U.S. President Barack Obama calling his
Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to discuss the issue this week.
(Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)