South Korean authorities discover hacking attempts abusing Halloween crowd surge

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Nov. 2, 2022 10:20PM KST

South Korean authorities issued a series of warnings regarding hacking attempts that abused one of the country’s worst peacetime disasters, happening on the Halloween weekend in Seoul.

The Office of National Security warned in a press statement on Tuesday that they have detected an attempted cyberattack which was related to the Halloween crowd surge, several local news outlets reported. The deadly surge in one of Iteawon’s narrow alleys led more than 150 people to their deaths.

According to the reports, the hacking attempts were carried out by a malicious document which was disguised as an official report by the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters. The document aroused the receivers’ curiosity and induced them to open it by implying that it contained detailed information about the incident, such as fatalities.

The ONS stated that the government quickly blocked the source, which was suspected of spreading the malicious documents, and took emergency action with the Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Intelligence Service.

The Korea Internet & Security Agency also issued a statement on Tuesday evening. The agency added that the attackers might abuse the nationwide tragedy to deploy malicious code onto the users’ devices through compromised emails, phishing, and smishing.

The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.

Kuksung Nam is a cybersecurity journalist for The Readable. She covers cybersecurity issues in South Korea, including the public and private sectors. Prior to joining The Readable, she worked as a political reporter for one of the top-five local newspapers in South Korea, The Kyeongin Ilbo, where she reported several exclusive stories regarding the misconduct of local government officials. She is currently focused on issues related to anti-fraud, as well as threats and crimes in cyberspace. She is a Korean native who is fluent in English and French, and she is interested in delivering the news to a global audience.