South Korea is scrambling to patch up vulnerabilities in cyberspace, after a shocking report emerged that North Korean hackers had stolen a large cache of military documents last year. The compromised information includes a top secret war plan to remove Kim Jong Un, the head of the North Korean regime.
On Oct. 9, Democratic Party Parliament Representative Lee Cheol-hee revealed that North Korean hackers had broken into the Defense Integrated Data Center in September last year to steal the South Korean military’s operational plans against the North, which include operational plans 5015 and 3100.
OPLAN 5015 deals with a joint U.S.-South Korea operation in the event of an all-out war with Pyongyang, and reportedly contains a pre-emptive “decapitation” of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. OPLAN 3100 is Seoul’s plan to respond to localized provocations from the North.
Lee claimed that he received the information from unnamed defense officials. Although the South Korean Defense Ministry has thus far refused to comment on or confirm the matter, the fact that Lee is a ranking member of the National Defense Committee in South Korea’s National Assembly means that his revelation has been widely seen as credible. The U.S. Department of Defense has also confirmed that the plans were hacked, according to a South Korean media report.
The news that the hostile North Korean regime had stolen the country’s top secret war plans has been met with disbelief and anger in South Korea. Many commentators are now criticizing government and military officials as incompetent, and some wonder whether the embarrassing hack would make Japan and the United States, the country’s two key allies, reluctant in the future to share intelligence with South Korea.
In response, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo ordered the military on Thursday to take anti-hacking measures to prevent further North Korean attacks, according to the South Korea’s Yonhap News. The South Korean military will review the existing cybersecurity framework and see what can be done to improve it.
Song also pointed out that this particular hacking incident occurred under the previous administration of Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in December 2016 and left office in disgrace.
“Nonetheless, related measures that have been taken stop short of the people’s expectations,” he said.
Dong-hyeon Kim contributed to this report.