Intolerable election interference

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Intolerable election interference

On the day of the Oct. 26 by-election, the National Election Commission Web site was shut down for two hours in the morning following a distributed denial-of-service attack. With the site out of service, voters were denied information on the locations of polling stations and background information on the candidates. Some voters couldn’t vote because they couldn’t find a polling station near their home.

The commission was accused of intentionally interfering in order to lower voter turnout, which would have helped conservative party candidates. Some posted messages to that effect online, saying that the NEC serves a particular candidate. The by-election drew a great deal of public interest because a civilian liberal candidate from the opposition camp was up against a ruling party candidate for the Seoul mayoralty.

Yesterday, the suspect was identified as an aide to Grand National Party Representative Choi Ku-sik. It is hard to believe that a ruling party confidante could have orchestrated an attack to interfere with the fair administration of the election. According to police, the suspect, a 27-year-old staffer identified only by his surname Gong, directed three acquaintances who all work in the IT industry to paralyze the NEC site. The three then mobilized 200 zombie computers to bombard the site with 263 megabytes of traffic, thus disabling it.

The suspect may have been trying to discourage young voters, who generally preferred liberal candidate Park Won-soon, while boosting the vote count for GNP candidate Na Kyung-won. Whatever the motive, such criminal action cannot be tolerated.

Police should carry out a thorough investigation into the matter. The main opposition Democratic Party is demanding a separate legislative probe and has accused the ruling party of orchestrating the attack. Choi and the party must also answer for the aide’s actions. The NEC must reinforce the security of its computer system to prevent such incidents from happening again.

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