South Korea vows to beef up defense against North Korean cyberthreats

Sept. 20 (UPI) — Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo vowed Friday to bolster the country’s cyber operations to combat the growing threats in cyberspace posed by North Korea and other entities.

Jeong made the remark during a conference on defense cybersecurity held in Seoul.

“Even at this moment, cybersecurity threats are increasing from all directions, as North Korea and other unidentified forces continue to launch attacks,” Jeong said, calling them a transnational menace similar to terrorism and natural disasters.

“North Korea is believed to be continuing its efforts to strengthen such capacities by nurturing professionals and by conducting research and development into the latest technologies,” he added, referring to Washington’s recent move to sanction three entities accused of conducting cyberattacks on behalf of North Korea.

In the face of growing threats, South Korea last year revamped the country’s cyber command, renaming the unit the Cyber Operations Command and designating it as an entity under the direct control of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in order to enhance its military operational focus.

“In order to further strengthen our cybersecurity capabilities, we will continue diverse efforts, such as boosting the efficiency of the cyber command and control system, cultivating more professional manpower and beefing up our defense posture in cyberspace,” Jeong said.

Cyberspace is often dubbed the “fifth battlefield,” after land, sea, air and outer space, and attacks in cyberspace could cripple financial, traffic, electricity supply centers and state governance structures, potentially sparking social unrest and a serious security crisis.

According to a recent report by United Nations experts to the Security Council, the international organization is investigating at least 35 cyberattack cases in 17 countries allegedly committed by North Korea to fund its weapons of mass destruction programs. South Korea was the most frequently attacked victim and was involved in 10 cases.

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