While South Korea worries about belligerence from its nearest and most troublesome neighbor – North Korea – the nation also has a lot of work to do on a different kind of security: cyber security.
South Korea's defense ministry announced this week that it plans to establish a new department to oversee cyber deterrence policies and prepare information security measures to better deal with the emerging form of threats, according to senior military officials. The South Korean military launched the Cyber Command in early 2010 to handle cyber security issues, along with different military and intelligence organizations, but there is no control tower to integrate the policies and strategies that defend military networks.
The new cyber team is expected to be in place in the first half of 2013. Its goal will be to develop defensive cyber warfare methods and recruiting more forces to carry out cyber space operations, the official said.
South Korea has been the target of a number of serious, concentrated cyber attacks in recent years. In 2009, the nation was the victim of mass DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks that disrupted business and communications in the country. Other large-scale DDoS attacks occurred in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and the most recent attack, which occurred last month, has reportedly damaged thousands of critical computers and even ATM machines.
Many of the attacks were aimed at the South Korean news media, and are reportedly becoming more sophisticated, which worries the South Korean governments.
While it has been generally accepted that North Korean agents were behind the attacks, South Korean government agencies have been careful not to express this information openly in the media, and security experts have warned that this explanation may be too simplistic.
According to Symantec, the most recent attacks would appear to be linked to the spate of 2011 denial-of-service attacks. The computer security firm noted that it has identified a particular back door (Backdoor.Prioxer) that surfaced during the 2011 attacks, and that a modified version of this back door was also discovered during the 2013 attacks.