[EDITORIALS]Neglecting online security

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[EDITORIALS]Neglecting online security

It has been discovered that documents can be easily forged on the government “e-service” program, by using a simple manipulation program. The e-service system is an online civil affairs service that the government had enthusiastically invested in; now it has proven to be greatly flawed. While it is fortunate that the government has decided to shut down the service for the time being, it is astonishing to find that such a big mistake had been made.
The time it took to download the manipulation program in a demonstration at last week’s National Assembly inspection of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs was a mere 5 seconds. It took only 10 minutes to produce a fake resident registration document with the program. Even a middle-school student could use the program to forge documents, making this quite embarrassing for the government. Since its establishment in 2003, the government’s Web site, which allows the public to have 21 kinds of civil documents issued without having to visit a civil affairs office, has issued more than 2.5 million documents. With a steady increase in the number of users, the system issued about 200,000 documents per month this year, making it likely some were fabricated documents.
What’s more serious is that the administration had no idea that such a flaw existed until the inspection by the National Assembly. Is this acceptable of the world’s supposedly fifth-most-efficient online government? Moreover, the government’s e-service site was shown to be vulnerable to attacks, as hackers could easily see the contents that people typed by using a “keyboard logger” spyware program. This site is connected to 76 government agencies, including the presidential secretariat. How could its security have been so lax?
The government has been investing a large amount of its budget and human resources into the building of an e-government system since the 1980s, with the goal of providing convenience to the public and transparency in government administration. According to the e-government roadmap, some 800 billion won ($776 million) will be spent on 31 projects by 2007. However, if the system is going to be vulnerable to hackers and the privacy of innocent civilians compromised, it will only damage the government’s reputation and produce innocent victims. The government should conduct an overall inspection of its e-government system and establish a plan for its security.
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