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The Obama administration and lawmakers are looking to South Korea to help thwart Pyongyang’s attempts to upgrade and strengthen its cyber capabilities. The country’s limited, but quickly expanding cyber capabilities were one of the main topics during Park Geun-hye, the South Korean President’s last White House visit.
The topic has also been on the minds of lawmakers in recent weeks, with new legislation that would require the White House to develop a strategy to counter North Korean hackers.
Washington and Seoul have been working to strengthen their joint cybersecurity efforts for some time. During Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the South Korean capital in May, the two countries pledged to tighten “cooperation on a range of new frontiers that will help define the 21st century, including science and technology, space exploration, cyber issues,” Kerry said. But lawmakers, experts and many in the administration itself believe Obama must go even further, as some are concerned that the White House is underestimating the North Korean cyber threat.
Although little is known about North Korea’s hacking abilities, experts are cautioning not to underestimate the mercurial regime.
What is known is that in a country with fewer IP addresses than a city block in New York and less Internet traffic than the 3,000-person Falkland Islands, North Korea has nonetheless focused its limited resources on developing elite digital warriors.The country’s advancements have been on display in a variety of increasingly severe hacks over the years, mostly targeting South Korea. Seoul blames North Korea for at least six notable cyberattacks since 2007.
The White House and the Blue House, South Korea’s executive office, will establish a “cyber coordination channel” to make sure they are “in sync” in combating cyber threats, Obama said. The two administrations also issued a long list of cyber pledges, committing both sides to joint cyber military operations, collaborative cybersecurity research and the side-by-side development of international cyber norms.