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S. Korean military research agency kept mum about hacking

S. Korean military research agency kept mum about hacking

Posted April. 11, 2014 05:23,   


The South Korean military has launched an investigation into a suspicion that there was an attempt to hack the e-main system of the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD). The military also plans to investigate whether North Korea was involved in the hacking attempt, as some of the large-volume e-mail messages sent to the ADD were using the Internet protocol addresses used in the North`s March 20, 2013 cyber attack on the South.

Regarding the Dong-A Ilbo`s exclusive report on the leakages of confidential documents through hacking, the South Korean military said Thursday that its Defense Security Command`s cyber investigation team is investigating into the suspected intelligence leakages and e-mail hacking. The military reportedly plans to look into the possibility of an insider`s responsibility as well as the possibility that North Korean hackers planted a malware program on the ADD`s computer system by sending e-mail messages from the outside.

However, the ADD seems to be making unconvincing excuses and attempting to reduce the ripple effects of the scandal, rather than actively trying to get at the truth of the intelligence leakages.

The ADD said Thursday that the stolen documents were not confidential but ordinary, which were made by the agency and its contractors regarding the manufacturing of new equipment under development. However, the "ordinary" documents are not supposed to be leaked to the outside because they describe in detail technological performances of advanced weapons of the South Korean military.

Although the ADD said only nine documents had been leaked, the number of leaked documents obtained by the Dong-A Ilbo alone is nine, indicating that the agency remains in the dark as to exactly how and what documents have been leaked.

In particular, the organization first noticed signs of hacking and intelligence leakages on March 24 but asked for investigation into the case 12 days later after the media and the National Assembly raised the issue. Due to the attitude, the agency is under fire for dragging its feet in disclosing and responding to the case as the military did with the recent discoveries of North Korean spy drones.

Both military and civilian experts strongly urge the military to conduct a thorough investigation and come up with measures against cyber hacking attempts by North Korean hackers disguised as Chinese ones. They call for pre-emptive and pro-active measures rather than "mending the barn after the horse is stolen." So far, the North has incessantly attempted to hack the ADD, a key research agency of the South Korean military. According to data the ADD submitted to Rep. Song Young-sun of the parliamentary committee on national defense in 2006, there were some 10,000 hacking attempts targeting the agency between October 2005 and September 2006.

Kim Young-joo, a lawmaker of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, criticized the ADD and the government for their "insensitive to security," calling for overall examination of the entire defense-related security networks.