It is vital we be prepared

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It is vital we be prepared

Major Internet sites in North Korea were completely shut down yesterday and then restored. The breakdown, which followed a stern warning by U.S. President Barack Obama to North Korea for allegedly hacking Sony Pictures, might have been triggered by an American cyberattack. Due to the secrecy of the Internet, it is difficult to determine exactly why the Communist state’s Internet failed, though circumstantial evidence would suggest the possibility of Washington’s engagement in a cyberwar with Pyongyang.

The episode demonstrates that cyberwar can take place in our daily lives, as evidenced in an alleged hacking group’s brazen leak of sensitive information regarding nuclear reactors operated by the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation. Considering the North’s potential involvement in this situation, our readiness for a potential cyberwar has been questioned.

Cyberwar can wreak havoc on our industries, communications, electricity, energy supplies, traffic and financial networks at any time, without warning. It could bring about arguably greater damage than a nuclear war. The problem lies in increasing threats from the North, which is bent on building another type of weapon following the development of nuclear bombs. North Korea is believed to have established the Strategic Cyberwar Headquarters at the behest of Kim Jong-un in August 2012, and doubled its number of soldiers from 3,000 to 6,000. It retains the world’s third-largest cyberwar capability following China and the United States.

The United States reinforced the capability of its Cyberwar Command in 2009 after foreign intelligence agencies hacked its military computer networks the previous year. How well-prepared are we? Despite the government’s announcement in 2013 detailing comprehensive measures to cope with the North’s cyberattacks, the government has not come up with a real action plan.

A bigger problem is the critical lack of legislation aimed at protecting our cybersecurity by establishing a comprehensive national-level response system. A presidential decree takes the place of the required laws. The National Assembly must pass two bills to safeguard our cybersecurity as soon as possible if it doesn’t want to see other national infrastructure hacked. The Blue House must serve as the focal point in the cybersecurity front and find ways to minimize potential damage by taking full advantage of our IT technology, infrastructure and manpower. The government also needs to cement its alliances with our allies to prepare for a full-fledged cyberwar. JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 24, Page 34

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