But now open sources close to the government say they have uncovered a plot to launch a massive cyber attack against South Korea this month, not by North Korea but instead by Microsoft, who are believed to be ready to automatically update all users of Internet Explorer (IE) to the latest version of the web browser.
With many Koreans still using Internet Explorer 6, which was launched in 2001, and many Korean websites only designed to work on that version of IE, a sudden jump forward by several versions and over eleven years is likely to lead to the complete collapse of South Korea's Windows-dependent infrastructure as sites from banking to air-traffic control stop functioning. Hospitals have been warned to prepare for a massive influx of casualties from Korea's IT industry as web designers are suddenly asked to learn something new.
When questioned, Microsoft claimed its attack against South Korea was actually part of an initiative to improve security online, and some foreign experts claim that global Internet security would be improved if Korea was removed from the online world. But many in the Korean government believe that the planned attack is actually in retaliation for the government's announcement in August that it was going to develop its own indigenous operating system, known as K-OS.
At the time the development of K-OS was called the first move in Korea's 'software war' against foreign IT companies and their non-Korean technologies, as Korea tried to develop its own software industry based on the success of earlier government supported projects such as K-DOS and the Mangul Word Processr (HWP).
It is not known when Microsoft will start its attack. The company said updates to IE6 would be applied without Korea's knowledge to help beat scammers catching people out with fake updates. When the attack begins, the telecommunications regulator says it may raised the nation's cyber alert to Level 2 - '404 Not Found'.
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