South Korean banks and broadcasters under hackers’ target

Officials in South Korea are investigating a suspected cyber attack that shut down two major banks and three TV broadcasters, prompting speculation that North Korea was involved.

Screens went blank promptly at 2pm (5am GMT), with skulls popping up on the screens of some computers – a strong indication that hackers planted a malicious code in South Korean systems, said the state-run Korea Information Security Agency.

Some computers started to get back online more than two hours later.

Police and South Korean officials investigating the shutdown said the cause was not immediately clear. But speculation centered on North Korea, with experts saying a cyber attack orchestrated by the capital Pyongyang was likely to blame.

No government computers were affected, officials said

It also comes amid increasing threats of attack from Pyongyang in response to UN punishment for its rocket launch in December and nuclear test in February. Washington also expanded sanctions against North Korea this month in a bid to cripple the regime’s ability to develop its nuclear program.

North Korea has threatened revenge for the sanctions and for ongoing routine US/South Korean military drills that it considers invasion preparation.