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2009/07/09 13:52 KST
S. Korea to open cyber warfare command next year: official

By Sam Kim
SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to set up a military command next year to tackle the threat of cyber attacks by North Korea, an official said Thursday.

   The Ministry of National Defense had planned to create the command in 2012, but an official in charge of the project said the plan has recently been changed.

   "The command will open on Jan. 1 next year and is expected to operate to its full capacity starting July," Kim Jae-min told reporters in a briefing
The plan comes amid fears that North Korea is behind cyber attacks that paralyzed dozens of South Korean and U.S. government Web sites earlier this week.

   Kim said details regarding the command will be worked out throughout the rest of this year, but said it would, once created, craft operational plans for defense and counter-offensives.

   The two Koreas remain technically at war with each other as their 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

   According to South Korea's Defense Security Command (DSC), North Korea operates a cyber warfare unit that specializes in hacking into South Korean and U.S. military networks.

   South Korea's defense networks are attacked an average of 15,000 times a day by hackers and hit with viruses another 80,000 times, the DSC said in a statement last month.

   Eleven percent of the attacks are "sophisticated attempts to extract military intelligence," while the rest are relatively easier to head off, it said.

   Most attacks by North Korean hackers are believed to take place via China, which has also been suspected of attempting to extract information from South Korean government computers.

   In May, South Korea and the United States forged a tentative agreement to bolster cooperation in fighting cyber terrorism and participate in joint anti-hacking exercises and conferences.