Cyber warfare command’s manpower to be doubled
By Chung Min-uck
The Ministry of National Defense is considering enlarging its Cyber Command, the unit responsible for defending the nation against cyber attacks.
“We are considering doubling personnel to 1,000, and putting it under a major-general,” said a defense ministry official, Sunday. Currently, the command is led by a brigadier general.
The ministry is stepping up its cyber capabilities following a series of efforts to jam South Korea’s Global Positioning System (GPS) by a cyber warfare unit under the North’s Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), Pyongyang’s top intelligence agency.
Intelligence officials here believe the RGB unit is staffed by 3,000 specialists. The special unit is reportedly in charge of distributing computer viruses and hacking into networks of South Korea and other nations and is under the direct control of the North’s leader Kim Jong-un.
Since 2010, Pyongyang has launched series of GPS signal disruptions that caused difficulties in air and marine traffic control.
The latest attack on the South’s navigation system took place between April 28 and May 13. Pyongyang denies their involvement in these GPS jamming incidents but the ministry concluded it was the work of the North.
Meanwhile, professor Lee Dong-hoon of the Korea University Graduate School of Information Security said last week that North Korea has world’s third strongest cyber warfare capabilities following Russia and the United States, claiming that the South needs to pay extra attention to this.
Lee said Pyongyang has been preparing for a cyber war since the 1980s and that it already has the capabilities to deal with different kinds of cyber warfare such as electronic and psychological warfare, denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and hacking into networks.
Pyongyang is also suspected of carrying out DDos attacks on websites of South Korea’s government institutions including Choeng Wa Dae in 2009.
Lim Jong-in, chief director of the Center for Information Security Technologies at Korea University, welcomed the news, saying, “But we need more. South Korea’s Cyber Command should at least have 10,000 cyber warfare personnel and the chief’s ranking should be upgraded to a three-star general."
“That size would enable the Cyber Command to carry out independent operations and have joint operations with the Army, Navy and Air Force.”