Cyber attack a call to action

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Cyber attack a call to action

Web sites for key government agencies in South Korea and the United States were simultaneously hacked this week in an unprecedented incident.

Compared to the “Internet Crisis” of January 2003, when the entire Korean network was paralyzed, a different type of attack was used this time. Also adding to the anxiety is that it’s still not clear who was behind the attack or why.

Cyber terrorism, which is essentially war without guns, is spreading widely.

In April, unidentified hackers attacked the U.S. Pentagon’s computers and retrieved about $300 billion worth of confidential information.

And last August, Russia, before its invasion into Georgia, paralyzed servers of major government agencies there.

According to the National Intelligence Service in Seoul, our public agencies are being attacked an average of 22 times a day by hackers both inside and outside Korea.

Against this backdrop, countries consider cyber terrorism as a real threat and are doing their utmost to prevent damage.

After the hacking into the Pentagon, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a “cyber security initiative,” calling for $17 billion over five years to be spent to secure networks. Japan strengthened its cyber terrorism command structure by putting its cabinet in charge of anti-cyber terrorism operations.

But the response of South Korea, one of the world’s most wired nations, has paled in comparison. We spend less than 100 billion won a year on cyber crime prevention. Damage from hacking piles up each day, but we only charge offenders for obstruction of official duty or fine them under the information and communications networks law.

And the law on national cyber attacks, which was initiated last year to deal with contingencies like the one this week, has been left untouched for nine months.

Opposition parties argue it is another of “MB’s evil laws,” referring to President Lee Myung-bak. They have refused to discuss the proposal.

We have to take this current attack as an opportunity to grow more aware of cyber crimes, and to start developing laws and systems to contend with contingencies. Exposed as we are to potential threats from North Korea, we’re that much more vulnerable than others to enormous damage from cyber terrorism.

Because they are directly linked to national security and people’s lives, computer systems must be closely monitored. And it’s time to consider establishing a government-run institution against cyber terrorism, like those in several other countries.

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