The Koreas

North Korea Doubles Size of Cyber Force

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The Koreas

North Korea Doubles Size of Cyber Force

North Korea has nearly doubled the size of its Strategic Cyber Command over the last two years.

North Korea has expanded its cyber terror force to about 6,000 cyber agents, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said earlier this month.

According to South Korea’s Defense Ministry, in 2012 Kim Jong-Un issued an order establishing North Korea’s Strategic Cyber Command. In the order, Kim emphasized the need to nurture a cadre talented agents for cyber warfare.

The ministry added that North Korea has nearly doubled the number of agents working at Strategic Cyber Command to 5,900 in two years.

The increase in personnel is already paying off for the North. The Defense Ministry said that South Korea suffered 1,560 cyber attacks from the North between January and September of this year. This was a roughly 36 percent increase in the number of cyber attacks South Korea suffered from the North during the same period  last year.

The South Korean Army’s security system are part of the problem, however. According to a series of new reports, the army’s computer systems lacks basic security features.

Over past 19 months, a total of 31,840 viruses have infected the two computer networks the South Korean Army uses, according to a report, which Ahn Gyu-baek, a lawmaker from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) party, was given by the Defense Ministry’s Cyber Command.

The South Korean Army uses its own computer networks, which are separated from the civilian Internet network for security reasons. The South Korean Army has at times claimed that its computer network is safe, but the report cited above casts doubt on this assertion.

Another lawmaker, Jin Seong-jun, said at a hearing earlier this month that the Cyber Command lacks basic security measures to protect its network.

According to Jin, back in June an inspection of the Cyber Command’s security practices revealed several violations. For example, it found that the command’s members often use outside USB drives instead of the ones approved by the Minister of National Defense, and that the command had failed to conduct any security checks on around 100 of its workers’ mobile phones.

The lawmakers urged the Ministry of National Defense to be more sensitive to security issues and abide by related rules as its main tasks are directly related to the national security.