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(Yonhap Editorial) A wake-up call to S. Korea about cyber security
SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- Last week's paralysis of the country's three major banks and three largest TV broadcasters, caused by cyber attacks, once again drew the country's attention to cyber security. In a welcome move, the government and political leaders are moving to craft a crisis management plan to fend off cyber attacks on the country's critical infrastructure following the incidents.

   Cyber attacks on Shinhan Bank, NongHyup, Jeju Bank and the broadcasters -- KBS, MBC and YTN -- shut down their computer networks, with North Korea suspected to be involved. The shutdown came days after the North accused South Korea and the United States of cyber attacks and threatened to retaliate. Investigations are under way into all possible causes of the massive computer network failures, including the involvement of North Korea.

   The latest cyber attacks have prompted the presidential office to push ahead with a plan to establish a control tower to rapidly and efficiently cope with cyber attacks on key infrastructure and national organizations. The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae plans to create the post of the cyber security secretary who, if appointed, will report directly to the chief of Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office.

   Suh Sang-kee, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, has said he will propose enacting a law aimed at the setup of a crisis management system against cyber terrorism. The envisioned law calls for the establishment of a control tower dealing with cyber attacks under the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the country's spy organ.

   There have been calls for the establishment of such a control tower as response teams are separately set up at government bodies. At least four organizations -- the National Intelligence Service, the National Police Agency, the military cyber command and the Korea Communications Service -- are responsible for countermeasures against nationwide cyber terrorism. The anti-cyber terrorism structure, as currently operated, suggests that an efficient and rapid countermove against hackers can hardly be expected.

   During a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Park Geun-hye instructed the presidential office's office of national security to come up with a set of comprehensive measures to fight against cyber attacks, expressing concerns about the lack of such an organ at the center of response efforts against cyber attacks.

   The lack of such a control tower means Seoul has forgotten a lesson learned from the 2009 cyber attacks on the Web sites of the South Korean government, known as distributed denial-of-service or DDoS attacks. In this regard, everybody could agree on the need to establish the envisioned control tower.

   A key concern, however, is that the ruling party's plan to put the control tower under the NIS is feared to produce side-effects such as infringement on information of private companies and individuals. That's why the opposition Democratic United Party is opposed to the body's establishment at the spy organ.

   Then, the role of such a control tower should be played by an institution that is able to eliminate people's worry about the access on the computer networks of the private sector and its information. It is hoped that political leaders and the government will reach an agreement to install a nationwide system that satisfies the needs of the people, government and military on how to deal with cyber terrorism.