The National Intelligence Service (NIS) is strengthening its capabilities to deal with cyber terrorism amid growing attacks from North Korea. The North was behind the paralysis of networks in banks and broadcasters last month, according to the science ministry earlier this week.
Presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung said Friday that the spy agency’s 3rd Department will begin to focus on the monitoring of cyberspace and telecommunications. Currently, its main mandate is North Korean intelligence gathering.
“The 1st Department will gather foreign intelligence while the 2nd will carry out anti-communist, anti-terror and anti-espionage efforts. The 3rd unit’s job will involve scientific intelligence including cyber terrorism and telecommunications,” Yoon said.
President Park Geun-hye appointed former military officer Kim Kyu-seok, 64, to lead the 3rd Department, Friday. She tapped Prof. Han Ki-beom of Korea University, 58, and former police officer Suh Cheon-ho, 52, as chiefs of the 1st and 2nd Departments, respectively.
Lee Heon-su, 60, was appointed as leader of the NIS Office of Planning and Coordination.
Meanwhile, Lee Eun-cheol, 66, an emeritus professor at Seoul National University, has been appointed head of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission. He is of equal rank to a vice minister.
“We put expertise first in selecting the right people for the posts,” Yoon said.
In a recent announcement, the Park administration accused North Korea of being the source of malignant codes used to launch recent cyber attacks against broadcasters and banks here, saying they were very similar to those previously used by the North.
Pyongyang launched similar attacks in 2010 and 2012, which also paralyzed banks and media outlets but denied the allegations.
Last month’s incidents further exacerbated already-tense relations between the two Koreas. The North has in recent days upped its belligerence with almost daily hostile rhetoric including repeated threats of war.
This comes following tough sanctions imposed by the UNSC as a result of its rocket launch last December and a Feb. 12 nuclear test.
It is now poised to launch an intermediate-range missile from its east coast, believed to have a range of 3,000km, bringing the U.S. territory of Guam, and all of Japan within striking range.
The Korea Times