Shame on Cyber Command

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Shame on Cyber Command

We are dumbfounded at the revelation that the Cyber Command of our military regularly reported to the Blue House the results of its analysis of posts and replies by not only politicians but also popular entertainers on social networking platforms. A list of the victims spied on by the military unit — established in 2010 to counter the threat of Chinese hackers and North Korean cyberattacks — even includes the singer Lee Hyo-ri and professional baseball player Lee Seung-yeop, the retired home run king from the Samsung Lions. The shocking news suggests that former conservative administrations might have conducted illegal surveillance on the lives of civilians across the board.

The Cyber Command is aimed at protecting our national information system, including the internet and public communication networks, from North Korea’s cyber threats since its first distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in 2009, which temporarily paralyzed the computing systems of our major financial institutions, government agencies and the media.

Yet the military command turned out to have reported to the presidential office as many as 462 documents involving celebrities’ personal postings on social media for nearly two years beginning in January 2011. Moreover, the command used a secret military computing network to report its findings to the Blue House.

In an earlier trial, members of the Cyber Command were already found guilty of illegitimately meddling in the 2012 presidential election by posting messages friendly to then-presidential candidate Park Geun-hye.

The weird development testifies to the military’s mobilization of its manpower and assets for political purposes by betraying its responsibility for coping with the ever-growing cyberattacks across the border. It is not a surprise that our military was not even aware of the massive leaks of sensitive information to North Korea from the Defense Integrated Data Center (DIDC), which is responsible for keeping all types of military information intact.

Given Pyongyang’s all-out campaign to incite South Koreans via social networking platforms, Cyber Command may need to analyze what messages were sent by celebrities who wield strong influence on the public.

But if the command really took the lead in exploiting their comments for political purposes, that constitutes a serious dereliction of duty. The military must get to the bottom of the case to punish officials involved.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 13, Page 34
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