In Box

Haven for Hackers

South Korea has the highest percentage of broadband Internet users in the world. Yet, the country’s cybersecurity record is one of the world’s worst. Last year, 26,000 hacking incidents were reported to South Korea’s Ministry of Information and Communication in a survey of government institutions, banks, businesses, and schools—a 178-fold increase since 1996. Kwon Seok-Chul, ...

South Korea has the highest percentage of broadband Internet users in the world. Yet, the country’s cybersecurity record is one of the world’s worst. Last year, 26,000 hacking incidents were reported to South Korea’s Ministry of Information and Communication in a survey of government institutions, banks, businesses, and schools—a 178-fold increase since 1996. Kwon Seok-Chul, the head of Hauri (www.hauri.co.kr), a Seoul-based computer-virus vaccine developer, says the South Korean government’s ignorance of cybercrime has made it "quite normal for hackers from all over the world to want to test their skills in the country." In June, foreign hackers (purportedly from China) penetrated several of South Korea’s security and defense agencies. Authorities are not sure what the hackers were after or how successful they were, but the rather embarrassing episode prompted the country’s National Cyber Security Center (http://service1.nis.go.kr/eng/) to mandate that, as of July 30, 2004, all Internet-related firms must report hacking incidents. Future cyberintruders may find it harder to come and go undetected.

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