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[Editorial] The Cyber Terrorism Threat is Real

Posted July. 10, 2009 07:35,   


As cyber attacks targeting the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae, the Defense Ministry and the U.S. White House continued for the third day, even a mutated malicious code emerged to expand the targets of the attacks. Experts warn that since technology used in cyber terrorism is so well orchestrated and thorough, it is even difficult to estimate the damage. South Korea is in a dire situation that is tantamount to cyber war. The government, investigators and private think tanks are scrambling to handle the situation but are having a hard time.

South Korea`s main spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, told the parliamentary intelligence committee Wednesday, “The attacks are believed to have been waged by North Korea or pro-North Korea groups.” The North, which is conducting nuclear weapon development and missile tests, is apparently trying to acquire the means to wage a high-tech cyber war. This is another threat to South Korea’s national security. The main opposition Democratic Party raised suspicion against Seoul’s intelligence agency, however, saying “We suspect the accusation as the government’s tactic to exploit its confrontation with the North.” Moreover, the party boycotted the committee meeting yesterday. The backbone of the country’s computer network is in a chaotic situation due to cyber terrorism, but the opposition party insanely seeks to use the crisis for political gain.

National intelligence agency is blaming Pyongyang for good reason. North Korea’s propaganda agency targeting the South, the Committee for the Peaceful Unification of the Fatherland, effectively heralded cyber terrorism through a spokesman’s statement June 27. Calling Seoul’s bid to participate in Cyber Storm, a U.S.-led cyber war drill, as “an act of aggression that shows (the South’s) ambition to attack the North,” the committee said, “We are prepared for any type of high-tech war.” Another reason to suspect Pyongyang is that only Web sites of South Korea and the U.S. have been attacked. The U.S. has also blamed the North as the mastermind of the cyber attacks.

Nevertheless, the Democratic Party is accusing Seoul of pointing its finger at Pyongyang to exploit its confrontation with North Korea. Does this mean the party does not care that the cyber attacks were committed by the North? This illustrates that the party still holds the same perception toward the North as the two previous leftist governments. It is pity to see the party’s lack of recognition of security vigilance since it suspects the South’s intelligence before being wary of the North. How will the party react if and when evidence is found linking the North to the attacks?

If the opposition party recognizes the importance of national security, it should go to the National Assembly first and listens to what national intelligence agency has to say. Even if the North wages a full-fledged war simultaneously with cyber attacks, the party’s role is to check and discuss whether the nation’s backbone computer and the military online networks for operations are working properly.