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Cyberattacks on Unification Ministry on sharp increase

Posted October. 04, 2018 07:31,   

Updated October. 04, 2018 07:31


The number of hacking attempts against South Korea’s Unification Ministry handling inter-Korean affairs increased sharply over the past year, government data showed Wednesday. In particular, attempts to collect system information targeting information on North Korean defectors or Seoul’s strategies for inter-Korean dialogue surged by 12 times year-on-year.

According to a ministry report submitted to Rep. Park Byeong-seug of the ruling Democratic Party, a total of 435 attempted Cyberattacks on the ministry’s computer system were detected during the first eight months of this year, up 76 percent from the same period in 2017.

Among the attacks, system information gathering attempts, which were aimed at checking security weaknesses to access documents in the ministry’s internal computer network, totaled 147 during the January-August period, a 12-fold increase from a year earlier. In addition, attempts to lure the ministry’s employees to phishing websites with a view to stealing their personal information rose by 400 percent year-on-year during the period. There has been no reported information leakage, the ministry said.

Earlier, U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye said that North Korea, which is launching Cyberattacks on South Korean public organizations, military facilities and private corporations, has been taking a “global attack” method, in which it operates hacker groups in Japan, Vietnam and Middle Eastern countries.

The number of Cyberattacks on the Unification Ministry rose from 172 in 2015 to 260 in 2016 to 336 in 2017 and to 435 during the first eight months of this year, calling for more thorough cyber security. The number of cases had already been tallied at 435 in the first eight months of this year.

“The Unification Ministry should draw up thorough measures to prevent damage from cyberattacks, as its computer networks have plenty of sensitive information including South Korea’s strategies for inter-Korean talks and North Korean defectors’ personal information," the lawmaker said.

Sang-Un Kim sukim@donga.com