Cyber security ignoranceLeaked military information is becoming a common occurrence here in large part because of a lack of security awareness among defense officials, despite the increasing severity of cyber attacks at the hands of North Korean hackers.
Some senior defense officials have lost sensitive and classified information after transferring files to USB drives - even though the military prohibits the use of such technology to store data because it can easily be stolen.
Strong disciplinary measures are needed to ratchet up security awareness among defense officials.
According to a Defense Security Command report to the National Assembly, the number of military officials punished for violating security codes and leaking - both intentionally and accidentally - confidential military information has been increasing sharply every year. The number was 510 in 2005 and rose to 879 in 2006, 965 in 2007, 1,164 in 2008, 1,512 in 2009 and 886 through the first six months of this year.
There have been some serious cases this year as well. The computers of 13 soldiers stationed at one particular base were hacked from January to March, exposing 1,715 files.
Officials even discovered a used USB drive on the open market that contained information related to joint Korea-U.S. drills, leading to the arrest of a military general who is now on trial for allegedly trying to hand over military secrets to a North Korean spy.
North Korea is reportedly starting to train children early on in life to eventually engage in cyberwarfare against South Korea and attempt to steal military information and destroy networks.
It currently has an army of about 600 to 800 skilled hackers engaged in these activities.
The country is suspected of orchestrating a series of denial-of-service attacks on key South Korean government and commercial networks in July of last year.
Defense Security Commanding General Bae Deag-sig warned of potential cyberattacks from North Korea aimed at tarnishing our information technology image ahead of the G-20 summit in Seoul this November.
If the cyberwarfare danger is that serious, military officials should be on full alert. Investment in technology to secure confidential military files and systems against hackers is essential.
But before doing that, officials dealing with classified files must first understand just how important it is to secure the data they handle. The military therefore must toughen disciplinary measures to hone security awareness.