By Jung Sung-ki
The South Korean military will establish a command that will defend military networks against computer attacks by 2012, the Ministry of National Defense said Friday.
The plan, part of the revised Defense Reform 2020 plan, comes amid growing concern about the increasing threat of cyber attacks against the country's defense and civilian networks.
``The envisioned cyber warfare command will counter attempts by hackers from third nations to penetrate into the country's military computer networks,'' a ministry spokesman said, asking not to be named.
The command will include key intelligence officials and computer experts from the defense ministry, the Defense Security Command and the three branches of the military, said the spokesman.
South Korea's military computer networks are facing an ever-growing number of cyber attacks, with 95,000 cases reported per day on average, the Defense Security Command said at a forum in Seoul earlier this month.
The military counters an average of 10,450 hacking attempts and 81,700 computer virus infections in addition to other cases, it said. The attacks increased 20 percent this year compared to 2008, the command said.
The command didn't elaborate over where the cyber attacks originated, but officials say most of them are from China, from where some North Korean hackers are believed to operate.
North Korea is known to operate a cyber warfare unit that specializes in hacking into South Korean and U.S. military networks to extract classified information, according to sources.
In May, South Korean and U.S. military authorities signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on information assurance and computer network defense by creating a mechanism to assure the freer sharing of information and technologies.
In particular, the agreement will help South Korea improve its cyber-defense capability and increase interoperability on joint cyber-defense operations and information-sharing after Seoul takes over wartime operational control of its troops from the U.S. military in 2012, ministry officials said.