Joo Dae-joon, Pioneer in Korean Cyber Security
DAEJEON, KOREA – Cyber security issue is becoming a major threat to national security. Last year, Iran is alleged to have hacked into a CIA-operated multi-million dollar drone that had crossed into its airspace, causing it to crash. At least two US satellite are also said to have been hacked four times in recent years. In Estonia, which emerged as one of the most advanced e-societies in the world, a three-week wave of massive cyber-attacks caused nearly all government ministry networks as well as two major bank networks to be knocked offline.
The Economist stated that after land, sea, air and space, warfare has entered the fifth domain: cyberspace.
South Korea, the most technologically advanced and wired country, is no exception to the vulnerability of cyber attack. Despite the fact that over 95 percent of the country’s households have permanent access to the Internet, not many users seem to be aware of the importance of protecting information in the realm of cyber space. Every day, tens of thousands of malicious codes are spread on the Internet and over 1,000 websites are said to be hacked. Last April, Nonghyup, a large commercial bank, was halted by a cyber intrusion, leaving millions of customers unable to access their money. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that crippled South Korean government sites in July 2009 caused a loss of USD 40 million.
Control tower to take a charge of national cyber security
“Despite a series of the incidents in Korea, the government doesn’t seem to be aware of the gravity of cyber attacks. Knowing who was behind the attack on the Nonghyup network is important. More important, however, is that we are on high alert to the possibility of attacking national infrastructure such as hydropower, electric power, and transportation system. Expanding the roles of established organizations to protect cyber networks is insufficient. It is of paramount importance to build control towers taking a full charge of national cyber security issues,” told Joo Dae-joon, Vice president of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He formerly worked for the Blue House, the Korean presidential residence, as a specialist in security service, network, and information technology and cyber security areas for 20 years.
“In an ever increasingly connected world, governments require a new paradigm of protecting their countries. Understanding the grave nature of cyber security issues, president Obama created the post of cyber security coordinator to oversee a new comprehensive approach to securing America’s digital infrastructure. The Korean government also needs to appoint the personnel to take full charge of national cyber security within the Blue House. It is time to raise the cyber security level at the national level,” said the vice president.
Cyber Security Research Center
Export cyber security technology worth USD 6 million to Japan
As part of an ongoing effort to raise Korean cyber security level, Joo created the Cyber Security Research Center in KAIST, ranked 20th in information and science technology areas worldwide. Korea already has diverse organizations responsible for security issues - National Intelligence Service (NIS) and National Policy Agency for public security, Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) for private security, and Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) for financial security. “However, the roles of these organizations are limited to responding to the crime only after the hackers attack has taken place. The center is focused on developing technologies to prevent them from breaking into networks beforehand. For instance, Person to Person (P2P) sites are crowded with many youths on Friday afternoon when the detection activities are loose. Similar to the methods which terrorists opt to utilize bombs in crowded places, hackers spread more malicious codes in websites with high traffic, rendering the users zombie PCs. In this situation, the center is able to identify the abnormal behavior of hackers and prevent the attacks in advance by monitoring and analyzing malicious code. Last year, the center played an essential role in detecting and defending cyber attacks in advance of the G20 Seoul Summit in collaboration with NIS and National Police Agency,” he said.
The Cyber Security Research Center developed the remote cyber security technology alongside Bitscan, a Korea cyber security venture company. The technology was exported to the Japanese security market which requires high technical standard. They signed a contract worth USD 6 million with Intelligent Wave, a Japanese financial solution and cyber security company. This original technology – designed to prevent the spread of malicious code and zombie PCs – is able to detect the infection path at least 48 hours faster than Google.
Fostering world-class cyber security specialists
Together with the research center, Joo is focused on fostering world-class cyber security specialists by setting up the Graduate School of Information Security. His dream is to foster students to follow in the footsteps of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg in security areas. The schools train only a select few with an enrollment of less than fifty students annually, providing convergence education with both theoretical and practical knowledge. The students are able to improve their capability to respond through mock exercises for cyber attack and defense.
KAIST S+ Convergence AMP is a program designed to foster government officials and CEOs to become super managers converging with Smart technology, Security and Strategy. He believes that CEOs should possess the ability to respond in this rapidly changing society with the ability to converge industries, information technology, as well as management and security. To provide the best lecturers for students, Joo invited prominent figures such as former ministers as well as chairmen and CEOs of Korean conglomerates. For students who are not able to attend classes due to business trips, real-time online lectures are provided through their smart phones at any location domestically and abroad.
“To make Korea fit for a global IT powerhouse and assume global leadership roles in cyber security, I will do my best to contribute to the information security industry by fostering world-class cyber security specialists as well as developing globally competitive technologies.”