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[Editorial] Ministry Was Oblivious of “E-Government’s” Vulnerability to Hackers

[Editorial] Ministry Was Oblivious of “E-Government’s” Vulnerability to Hackers

Posted September. 26, 2005 06:15,   


The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs announced on September 23 that its e-government service, which allows public to apply for public documents on the Internet will be suspended for some time. The announcement came after it was revealed that the e-service was vulnerable to computer forgery and hacking. People now have to travel to public agencies to get any of 21 kinds of public documents, including transcripts of resident registration, land registers, and military registers, until the problem is fixed.

What is even more troubling is that the ministry was oblivious to the problem until it was revealed by the parliamentary inspection of the administration. The government was not aware of the fact that there are fatal flaws in its e-government system, which has been issuing more than 1.6 million documents this year alone. The government reportedly couldn’t answer, when it was asked, “what if some criminal faked official values of land through the internet to pay less taxes?”

The public can’t help but to ask if this is the proud result of the “reform,” which the government has been bragging about, especially when the administration’s system is so vulnerable, as opposed to the supreme court’s system which is safe from fabrication or forgery. The government has been publicizing itself as the symbol of an advanced government, raising its voice for reform and boasting of its forward-looking reorganization. Now it is proved that its reform and innovation are only words not matched by actions. This fiasco also made us realize the minister and officials of the administration are out of touch with public.

The seriousness of this issue lies in the fact that the system is vulnerable to forgery, which is fundamentally different from traditional ones focusing on making and altering image files. It is more of a forgery at the source. Hackers can fake or fabricate contents, which will be sent to applicants, at the administration’s network. In addition, it was found that eight billion won, which has been poured into system security for the past three years, went for nothing. The system turned out to have failed to safeguard itself from even the most basic hacking programs.

The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has been running e-government since the 1980s, investing hundreds of billions of won and employing more than 160 people. That very administration is now forced to suspend its service for security reasons. Those who are responsible should be held accountable for bringing such shame on the nation and causing such an inconvenience to the public.