South Korean officers have concluded that North Korea was behind a series of cyberattacks in December on Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power that attempted to force the operator of the nuclear reactors to shut down its power grids. Investigators determined that the malware used by the hackers was similar to the malicious code widely used by Pyongyang.
It is shocking to learn that such a key piece of infrastructure like a nuclear power base is so vulnerable to cyberattacks by North Korea. Targeting nuclear reactors for peaceful commercial use is a serious threat to the safety of the South Korean people. The government must prove North Koreans were behind the cyberattack with undeniable evidence and lodge protest with Pyongyang to make sure such threats are not repeated. It should also consider raising the issue on an international level for concerted action.
At the same time, the government and nuclear power authority should upgrade its security systems and protections against cyberattacks. The government announced that it will strengthen cybersecurity on a national level, but coordinated actions cannot be orchestrated under the current system, where cybersecurity responsibilities are scattered among various jurisdictions and government offices. The government must first of all set up a control tower for coordinated command and comprehensive surveillance and management. It would be best formed under the presidential office, as cybersecurity directly concerns national security.
Cybersecurity cannot be guaranteed by the state alone. In a wired world, it requires cooperation with governments, law enforcement and security authorities worldwide. Through this alliance, we must be able to share information and assist one another through open source surveillance. We need stronger ties in Shenyang, China, where North Korean hackers mostly base their activities.
Hacking and cyberattack experts must also be groomed, and companies should invest more on computer and online security solutions, training and manpower. The government also should systematically train and groom cybersecurity officers. The military should make the same effort and build cyberintelligence and security forces.
Cyberthreats and warfare pose the biggest threat to security in the 21st century, requiring vigilance and preparedness on the private and public level.
JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 18, Page 30