&#91EDITORIALS&#93Oops, there goes Internet!

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[EDITORIALS]Oops, there goes Internet!

An unprecedented incident in which the Internet connection was paralyzed nationwide occurred over the weekend. The fact that a core national infrastructure was paralyzed for nine hours because of some virus is truly shocking. What if the incident had taken place on a weekday and not a Saturday afternoon? Stock trading and financial transactions as well as government and corporate work could have been disrupted. The country could have neared standstill. Experts say the crisis is over, but the system remains unstable. A detailed analysis of the cause and thorough follow-up measures should ensue.

The vulnerability of the Microsoft database program called SQL Server, which is believed to be the source of the problem, had been suspected for two years. But Korea Telecom and other telecommunications firms did not take adequate measures to avert the problem. They must shoulder the blame. The Ministry of Information and Communication should share responsibility, since it worsened the situation by not having an adequate system to manage the Internet.

The disruption tarnished South Korea's image as a first-class Internet nation. We also know now how vulnerable our system is. South Korea incurred more damage compared to countries such as the United States because Koreans tend to be more risk-prone and have inadequate systems of reacting to Web-based attacks. About 60 percent of South Korean households are wired and more than 10 million households have access to high-speed Internet connection. The Internet is now an essential part of life in everything from government documents to online financial transactions and airline reservations. In quantity, South Korea's Internet system is top-notch, but in quality there is ample room for improvement, especially in our security awareness and investment in software development. Incidents like this are bound to recur if improvements are not made.

Comprehensive measures need to be de-vised. The private sector must strengthen its security system by erecting firewalls against viruses and hacking attempts. It also should invest in producing more computer programmers. The government should toughen regulations on illegal computer activities.

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