The Korea Times
Hackers Attack Presidential Office's Computer Network
A series of hackers' attacks have hurt South Korea's pride in its
information technology (IT) and Internet prowess. People are shocked by
reports that the presidential office's computer network was hacked into
in mid-February. This case is raising serious worries about the
country's poor Internet security system, which might threaten national
security. What's more surprising is that the government failed to detect
the hacking until late March.
How can we boast of our technological breakthrough in information and
communication technology after the heart of the administration was
infiltrated? No doubt South Korea's online security system was caught
off guard despite its self-praised feat of e-government and e-commerce.
It is a shame that the government had failed to take tighter security
measures to prevent potential leaks of confidential information about
national security, diplomacy, defense, economy, etc.
The presidential office's initial reaction to the first report by The
Hankook Ilbo, sister paper of The Korea Times, disrupted public trust.
The Korean language daily carried a front-page article, ``Cheong Wa Dae
Attacked by Hackers,'' in its Tuesday edition. The office denied the
report immediately, but had to admit to the incident less than two hours
later. It is disappointing that officials are still accustomed to
denying any media reports before telling the truth.
A Cheong Wa Dae official said a type of worm virus penetrated the
desktop computer of an employee belonging to the National Security
Council (NSC) just before then-President Roh Moo-hyun retired Feb. 24.
He confirmed that stolen data included national security-related
surveys, writing manuals, reports and other NSC data. But the official
said the data were neither confidential nor critical to the country's
national security. The virus is presumed to have originated from a
neighboring country. There were also suspected hacking attempts into the
office's Internet Saturday.
The NSC employee has been investigated as he is suspected of violating
information security guidelines that ban officials from storing data on
their personal computers. We cannot understand why the official ignored
the regulations, becoming the target of the hacking. No wonder
government officials have little sense of information security. There
are growing suspicions that the lack of discipline among officials
during the power transition period has provided a brewing ground for
In this regard, Cheong Wa Dae officials under President Roh cannot avoid
responsibility for their poor security measures. President Lee Myung-bak
said in a briefing of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security
in March 15 that his computer did not work at his office for 10 days
from the Feb. 25 inauguration day. The glitch could be attributed to the
hacking. Some officials may face allegations that they had tried to
cover up the incident. It is still irritating to know that the
government has yet to determine the amount and content of the leaked
The government and businesses should go all-out to establish a
watertight online security system to ensure national security and
information privacy, or we might lose an ``information war'' in an
Internet-based information society.
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