Wednesday, March 20, 2013

North Korean Hackers Crash South Korean Systems?

This story helps to show how dependent our society has become on the internet and on computers in general.

Previously I posted an article on how the US government is protesting apparent hacking sponsored by the government of China.  The US claims that Chinese hackers have been stealing information from various US businesses and government offices.

Now the South Korean government is blaming North Korea for potentially hacking into South Korean systems in order to disrupt services at banks and media companies.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to be paralyzed - if a person is paralyzed, it usually means he/she had an accident and cannot move part or all of his/her body.  If a system is paralyzed, it cannot be used.  Basically, to be paralyzed means a person can't move or something is no longer usable.

a hacker - someone who illegally enters another person's or groups' internet or computer systems

to crash a system - if your computer 'crashes' it stops working.  If a system crashes, it stops working. In these two examples we used 'crash' as an intransitive verb - a verb that doesn't take an object.  "Crash" is also used as a transitive verb, taking an object: They crashed various computer systems.  This means they took measures to force these systems to stop working.

to disrupt - to interrupt, to cause problems with

a coordinated attack -  this is an attack which is well-planned so that a number of goals can be reached at one time.

to pinpoint -  to identify something precisely; to be able to point precisely at a cause

to decline to do something - to refuse to do something; to say that you will not do something

to speculate on - to think about the causes of something; to guess

suspicion fell on - this is an idiomatic usage.  If you suspect someone of doing something, you think he/she did something, so your suspicion falls on this person.

to dispatch - to send

inexplicably - without explanation, unexplainably.  If something is inexplicable, there is no explanation as to why it happened.

a halt - to stop doing something is to halt doing something; a halt is therefore a stoppage.

intensive - very deep, thorough, strong

discord - the opposite of harmony; if there is discord between a couple of people, they are arguing

to circumvent - to go around something; to avoid something

propaganda - this is information provided by a government to make the government look good. It is somewhat true and somewhat false information.  For instance, let's say a government is run by a dictator.  His government might create movies or news stories showing how happy the people of the country are.  yet, many innocent people might be in jails being tortured.

sanctions - these are regulations meant to harm the economy of a country which has violated international law

to impose - to place upon, to put on.

a regime - a long-term government system that is anti-democratic

provocation - to provoke, to cause trouble; provocation is the causing of trouble

to unleash - this word is used often in newspapers.  A leash is something that a person puts on a dog when the dog is taken for a walk.  If you have a mean dog and you unleash him, he might attack someone.  So to "unleash" something is to let something wild go so.  A government can unleash its army, for example, and the army will attack another country.

infrastructure - everything that makes up the basics of a society.

vulnerable - to be at risk; if you are vulnerable you are not safe.

to collide - to crash into, to smash into

to be immobilized -  if you are immobilized you cannot move

1)  What do you think should be done about these apparent cyber-attacks from North Korea and China?

2)  Do you think it would be justified to start a war if a country launched a massive cyber-attack which was designed to paralyze your entire society?

3) Do you think that South Korea should retaliate (get revenge) if it is determined for certain that North Korea attacked their internet systems?

Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

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