Coping with hackingThe National Intelligence Service’s latest report to the National Assembly is shocking. In a legislative audit of the government on Tuesday, the top spy agency told members of the Intelligence Committee that North Korea hacked the Blue House, the legislature and government offices handling diplomacy and security affairs and stole sensitive information. If the NIS statement is true, it would be a colossal intelligence crisis for the nation.
According to the NIS report, not only the personal computers but the personal email accounts of 10 members of the legislature - including lawmakers and their aides - were hacked by North Korean cyberattack teams. We are dumbfounded at the North’s malicious attempt to hack our lawmakers, their staff and the government’s security and diplomatic officials in a bid to grab our government’s future strategies for national governance and external negotiations.
But those hackings are just the tip of the iceberg. NIS officials said that North Korea went so far as to hack the smartphones belonging to our government officials and legislators, tapping into their text messages and video and audio records in real time.
The report has laid bare the true nature of Pyongyang’s low-cost, high-efficiency cyberwar capabilities, which have been bolstered as part of a campaign to reinforce its asymmetric engagement. The fact that Pyongyang could audaciously penetrate the firewalls of our major government organizations and hack them shows its cyberwarfare capabilities have improved considerably. The North’s cyberwarfare skills have arguably reached a phase formidable enough to destroy our key networks of electricity, telecommunication, traffic and finance, even without warning.
The government must be fully prepared for cyberwar with North Korea and other countries since the latest hacking incident. Government ministries, the military and the corporate sector must come up with measures to counter the North’s cyberattacks as soon as possible. The National Assembly must quickly pass the national cybersecurity bills pending in the legislature amid its unceasing political mud fights in order to avoid another round of cyberattacks in the future.
The Blue House must also devise tight countermeasures for the North’s malevolent attacks down the road. It must approach the issue on a national security level beyond the realm of cybersecurity. The presidential office also needs to establish a joint front to fight this ever-expanding cyberwar with its allies.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 22, Page 34