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[Opinion] Hacking Troops

Posted May. 27, 2004 20:36,   


On x, x in 20xx, the computer networks connecting Seoul like a cobweb suddenly bring about diverse errors. Electricity supplies are cut off, and every kind of computer system, such as telephone, transportation, and banking systems, are also paralyzed, throwing the whole city into a quagmire of darkness. The chain of military command between each army faces a deadlock because the national security information network is also suspended. Though jet fighters manually take off and land, their operational vision is blacked out because the tactical controls of headquarters are not effectively conducted. It is the simulated scenario of a cyber war between South and North Korea, where the computer “Hacker warriors” appear.

Could these sorts of things really materialize? Is the above a description of the opening stages of a war breaking out? The answer is “possibly” because it has been confirmed that North Korea is managing a hacker’s unit under control of their defense ministry’s reconnaissance department. North Korea always boasts that they are not dropping back in the field of computer software let alone in other fields. That is, their human resources to raise hacker warriors are copious. Considering the saying, “With one well-trained hacker, 10,000 troops are not that enviable,” this must have been an opportunity oasis for North Korea that they could not have passed up.

The means of cyber warfare, which first appeared in the Gulf War, has exercised its power in almost every international conflict including the Yugoslavian War in 1999. The United States, Russia and China are very much enthusiastic in the research of this field, organizing “Cyber troops” and developing a variety of offensive and defensive means. Poor countries such as North Korea, Iran, and Cuba are also very much interested in this field because it is a very “cheap” means of conducting war that can paralyze an enemy’s nerve system simply with computer viruses or logic bombs rather than by depending on very expensive, practical missiles. It is same way of reasoning comparing chemical and biological weapons, which have been called the “poor man’s nuclear bomb.”

What about Korea, that boasts its leading place in informational technology fields? Unfortunately, it seems that there have not been many governmental preparations. Private sectors are more enthusiastic, such as the assertion to “Nurturing 100,000 hackers.” It seems that the warnings of Defense Security Command against North Korean cyber attacks are way too late. It is hard to just look at the North Korean cyber warriors’ free activities in the “Cyber Republic of Korea.”

Editorialist Song Moon-hong, songmh@donga.com