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Editors Of South Korean Newspaper JoongAng Daily Plead For More Cyber Security To Defend Against North Korea's Hackers In Impassioned Op-Ed

by Jesse L. / Mar 10, 2016 07:27 PM EST
A man walks past at Cyber Terror Response Center at National Police Agency on March 21, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea.

With the North Korean government threatening nuclear annihilation this week over expanded joint training exercises between South Korea and the US near the border, cellphone security is probably not a top diplomatic priority right now.

Yet, with South Korea's National Intelligence Service claiming on Monday that dozens of government officials' smartphones had been hacked by the North with an addition breech on a government database where information on 20 million of the country's citizens is stored, the editors of the JoongAng Daily newspaper have had enough.

In an apoplectic editorial published Thursday, the publication demanded that people both inside and outside of government start taking the threat of a cyberterrorist attack from North Korea seriously.

"The government and society must be on alert for North Korean cyberthreats," the article read.

"The government said it will conduct security surveillance on transportation, telecommunications, financial and defense infrastructure. But the fact that senior officials did so little as to simply download data to be infected by malware suggests that the public sector is not thoroughly vigilant enough against cyberthreats. Despite numerous hacking cases, no significant improvements have been made on that front."

While most Westerners would most likely associate North Korea hackers first and foremost with the Sony hack that disabled 70 percent of the computers on the entertainment conglomerate's network in retaliation for to the Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg film "The Interview," the editorial focused on a hack in South Korea from the previous year.

"The latest cyberattack could be a prelude to a large-scale raid like the one on March 20, 2013, when banks and broadcasters were paralyzed for days due to a chain of North Korean cyberattacks," the editorial read.

"Targeted government officials were mostly involved in foreign and security affairs, suggesting Pyongyang was trying to spy on Seoul's moves following the North's nuclear and long-range missile tests."

JoongAng Daily's editors pleaded with governmental officials to do something to protect their digital security.

"The South Korean government must establish an immediate and long-term outline to counter new threats from North Korea," they wrote.

"We cannot afford to make any more mistakes when it comes to threats and potential attacks by North Korea."

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