08 July 2009

Cyber v. Missile Attacks

The Guardian reported today that both South Korea and the US have been plagued by cyber-attacks originating out of North Korea starting on Saturday.

'North Korean hackers are suspected of launching a cyber-attack on some of the most important government offices in the US and South Korea in recent days, including the White House, the Pentagon, the New York Stock Exchange and the presidential Blue House in Seoul. The attack took out some of South Korea's most important websites, including those of the Blue House, the defence ministry, the national assembly, Shinhan bank, Korea Exchange bank and the top internet portal Naver. ... John Bumgarner, director of research at the US Cyber Consequences Unit, said: "There's been a lot chatter recently about cyber-war. The North Koreans may have felt they were not getting enough attention launching missiles so they moved into another potential warfare – cyber. It's a form of sabre rattling. But the big question is, did the North Koreans launch it themselves or did someone do it for them?"'
Also on Saturday, North Korea launched seven ballistic missiles (two medium-range and five short-range) capable of striking all of South Korea and much of Japan, over the objection of the UN Security Council. Their apparent moves to test-launch another long-range missile appear to have been smoke, at least for the moment.
'"The members of the Security Council condemned and expressed grave concern at the launches, which constitute a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and pose a threat to regional and international security," council president Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda said. North Korea, which was banned from ballistic missile launches in a Security Council resolution passed last month, "must comply fully with its obligations," Rugunda said in an oral statement read to journalists.'
I wonder what part of 'they really don't give a s**t' the Security Council doesn't get. They seem to believe that stating objections will do something to deter North Korea from acting like a spoiled brat. Right now, our direct interests are not much affected by North Korea's missile program. We do have shipping and security interests that could be impacted, but our greater concern is the continued participation in illegal arms sales. So far, we've done nothing but issue empty threats on that front as well. We should be (but maybe aren't) concerned about the risk to sworn allies, but that may or may not fully materialize. Certainly Japan and South Korea are themselves concerned.

For now, the cyber-attacks may be the worst threat North Korea can offer as an immediate response. The arms trading and missile development, however, can not be dismissed.

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