Bracing for electronic warfare

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Bracing for electronic warfare

North Korea’s aggressive engagement in electronic warfare is a wake-up call for the military as it poses an unparalleled threat to our security. The military should thoroughly prepare for whatever crisis the North brings to the Korean Peninsula. The North discharged electromagnetic waves last Friday against the South in an apparent attempt to disturb signals from our satellites in space.

This new form of belligerence is known to have inflicted damage on citizens’ cell phone communications in areas northwest of Seoul. The attack also reportedly caused a temporary communication problem for our artillery battalions as it interfered with their measuring equipment.

There was a precursor to the latest attack: North Korea sought to interfere with GPS communications during the Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercise jointly conducted by South Korea and the United States last year. The North appears to be doing the same for the ongoing South Korea-U.S. Key Resolve drill, which continues until March 10. The North’s new provocation has so far failed to cause serious damage to the South. But such frequent attacks can be seen as a herald of a full-fledged electronic war against the South in the future.

Our military insists that its major electronic equipment has a method of coding communication that protects it from the North’s attacks and ensures the safety of the equipment.

But the problem is not the military’s alone, because cell phones have already become a major communication tool among civilians. Financial transactions and civilian airplanes also depend on radio signals. Their vulnerability can be confirmed by the damage North Korea’s latest magnetic interference caused us. The problem could be further exacerbated by the fact that our military equipment increasingly relies on commercial GPS standards.

At the moment, North Korea’s capability to wage a full-fledged electronic war against the South is not yet known. What is most worrisome is the dire fact that North Korea is a country with nuclear weapons. When detonated, nuclear bombs create an electromagnetic pulse - a burst of electromagnetic radiation - that sends out voltage surges that can damage electrical or electronic systems. North Korea is reportedly doing its utmost to develop a general type of electromagnetic pulse that can be used for broader purposes. It is high time for the government to prepare for electronic warfare from the North in both military and civilian spheres.
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