North Korean hackers are thought to be behind the recent infiltration of a bank in South Korea in the latest episode of what data security experts fear is the rise of state-sponsored cyber warfare.
The incident occurred in April, and the result was the destruction of data and blocking of banking services for more than 30 million customers of the Nonghyup agricultural bank. The organization responded by allocating $476 million to firm up its data security measures during the next four years.
According to a report from the International Business Times, Internet security researchers and investigators believe they have traced those responsible for the cyber attack back to North Korea, adding to an already long and embattled history between the nations. In 2009, the news provider reported, it was discovered that North Korea stole confidential military information from the South's government network.
"The bank attack was like shelling an island to create terror without attacking a high-value military target," data security Georg Wicherski analyst recently told the Washington Post.
He also said that such attacks are "doing massive damage with simple means. This is cyber warfare 101."
The time has come for governments around the world to shift their focus toward the Internet when it comes to data security. Between the Korean incident, the discovery of the Stuxnet worm in Iran and the nuisance presented by hacktivist groups like Lulz Security and Anonymous, governments can no longer sit back and leave cybersecurity to private organizations. These and similar cyber attacks have demonstrated that government networks may be a common and susceptible target.
By working together, public agencies and private companies may be able to come up with a solution that has plagued computer and Web users for years.
In July, the U.S. Department of Defense released its latest policy for cybersecurity, called the Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace report. In it, government officials call for U.S. Armed Forces personnel to be trained in cybersecurity, the creation of new defense operating systems, agencies to work together to draft and promote a government-wide strategy and strengthening alliances through the shared responsibility of cybersecurity.
Some lawmakers called the strategy report too vague, but, overall, agreed it was a step in the right direction.