Defense Systems Hacking on the Increase

Attempts to break into South Korean military computer systems and vandalize them or gather sensitive materials occur at least 95,000 times a day. That is a 20% increase over 2008, indicating the urgency of coming up with effective countermeasures.

The “7th National Defense Intelligence Protection Conference” was held by South Korea’s Defense Security Command (DSC) at Government Complex, Gwacheon on the 16th.

Methods of attack on an average day include: ▲ 81,700 incidents of virus propagation; ▲ 10,450 attempted hacks; ▲ 1,900 alterations to internet homepages; and ▲ 950 incidents of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, which cause websites to crash.

A source affiliated with DSC revealed that “89% of cyber attacks posed small-scale risks to military computer servers and internet homepages, but the remaining 11% were attempts to steal military intelligence.”

In particular, what has been observed by intelligence authorities is that cyber attacks on the South Korean military are usually carried out from or via China. A majority of North Korean hackers have been using Chinese servers to attack the South Korean cyber network.

According to intelligence authorities, North Korea, since several years ago, has had a “cyber warfare unit” under the North Korean People’s Army’s (KPA) General Staff. This unit, which is composed of approximately 100 computer experts, has been known to hack into secret documents by infiltrating the computer networks of organizations related to the South Korean army and spread viruses via third countries such as China.

The experts in the unit–mostly graduates of Mirim University in Pyongyang–are also in charge of trying to paralyze South Korean computer networks by spreading viruses.

Moreover, according to DSC, serious cases, including National Defense and Science Institute researchers leaking South Korean military secrets to foreign enterprises or passing defense industry materials via third countries such as China, have been taking place regularly.

Consequently, the Defense Security Command revealed that it has been watching closely, mobilizing the Army, Naval and Air Force Computer Emergency Response Teams, creating risk management structures, document dissemination defense systems and joint security regulations.

Around 700 participants took part in the event, including Minister of National Defense Lee Sang Hee, the South Korean Army chief executive department and persons from commercial intelligence protection companies.

Commanding General Kim Jong Tae noted in his opening address, “As seen in the battle between Russia and Georgia and Israel and Hamas, the paradigm of war is changing into one where physical destruction and cyber war are being carried out side-by-side. Cyber attacks have surpassed mere computer hackings to a level which can seriously threaten national security.”

Kim emphasized, “Safeguarding cyberspace is directly connected to not only security, but also national competitiveness.”