On Friday, South Korean officials reported that in the last five years, the country had been subjected to over 110,000 cyberattacks. The information was announced by a member of the National Assembly's Public Administration & Security committee, Im Su-kyung.
The term "cyberattack" describes any action undertaken by hackers to damage or destroy computer systems or networks.
The South Korean National Computing & Information Agency (NCIA) collected data on hacking attempts over the period of June 2011 to June 2015. After filtering it, the National Assembly found 114,035 cyberattacks directed at official government organizations. However, the number does not include attempts that were stopped by firewalls or other web security. Also excluded are the attacks registered by the Ministry of National Defense and its National Intelligence Service, as their databases do not register with the NCIA.
The biggest number of assaults targeted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was under attack 8,663 times. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy got hit 5,735 times, while the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs was targeted almost as much, 5,224 times in total. The National Police Agency and the Ministry of Health and Welfare were of less interest to hackers, each being breached around 3,000 times.
Tracking the origin of these attacks brings up a lot of surprises. Officialy, South Korea is behind 66,805 of the initiatives, China ranks second with 18,943, and the United States takes third place with 8,092. North Korea, which most people expected to make the podium, did not even get one percent of the malicious traffic.
It is true that hiding the IP has become ridiculously easy in the last few years and routing the origin of the cyberthreat to a different nation is commonplace. As every data package that is sent over the Internet has information about its source and destination, it is possible to verify where each originates. The challenge is to detect which information has been tampered with and made to point at a false geographical location.
"If confidential state information leaks out, the consequences can be immense," Su-kyung said.
The report detailed the nature of the hacks and divided them into four groups. 33,544 were "attempts to access information without permission," and 18,607 qualify as "information leakages." These refer to the personal data of government personnel - names, contact data and social security numbers. "Authorization acquisition attempts" is the third type, with 16,243 attacks. Finally, 14,077 "information collections" were reported.
"We must do more to stop the growing number and the growing number of types of cyberattacks," Su-kyung pointed out.
Photo: Emmanuel DYAN | Flickr