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Korea becoming hotbed for international hackers

Posted January. 09, 2001 20:21,   


An increasing number of international computer hackers are using Korea as a way station for on-line terrorism, experts said Tuesday. Just as some island countries serve as arenas for international money laundering, Korea is emerging as the place for laundering Internet protocols (IP).

Analysts said that overseas hackers find it easy to hide their identities in Korea as the nation's computer security system is considered to be second-rate. At the end of last year, an American company sent a letter of warning to a prestigious Korean university after it was exposed to a hacking attempt that originated in the university's computer system. It failed to receive a reply. The American company asked the Korean Information Security Agency (KISA) to look into the case, an investigation which revealed that the university had abandoned the computer system after it fell victim to online attacks from U.S. and Malaysian hackers.

Overseas hackers took over the system by installing numerous hacking programs using fake IDs.

According to KISA, the number of overseas hacking cases via Korea stood at 261 last year. The figure was only four in 1997 but has since risen rapidly to 91 in 1998 and 183 in 1999.

Tom Cross, vice president in charge of global Internet security strategies at iAsiaWorks, which operates Internet Data Centers in 12 countries, including Taiwan and Hong Kong, said that about 80 percent of the security problems occurring in the region are associated with Korea.

A foreign hacker who infiltrated 15 homepages operated by Korean companies and universities last May left a message saying that Korean servers were defenseless to international hackers. He said he selected Korea as the first target in his plans to conquer the world's Internet sites

Cheon Kwang-Am iam@donga.com