Is the inter-Korean conflict going cyber?

(AlJazeera) South Korea has one of the most advanced IT infrastructures on the planet, offering the world’s cheapest access to the fastest internet connection anywhere. Approximately 95 per cent of its near 50 million citizens surf the web – a statistic virtually unmatched by any other country.

Despite being so technologically advanced, however, the country continues to suffer from ongoing cyberattacks, which authorities say are from North Korea.

Seoul has identified the assaults as part of the North’s plans to strategically nurture its cyberwarfare unit, and responded with pledges to bolster its own cyberdefence programme by doubling its number of hackers. It is also establishing 24-hour cybersecurity centres under the auspices of key government agencies such as the unification ministry and the central bank.

South Korean authorities and experts, alongside defectors from the North say the country’s communist neighbour may be taking its war with the South from the trenches to the cybersphere – seeing it as a more effective way to topple its capitalist enemy.

The two Koreas remain technically at war, since they never signed a formal peace treaty to mark the end of the Korean War, which began on 25 June, 1950.

But critics say the elusive nature of such hacking incidents makes it impossible to know for certain that the North was behind these assaults – especially considering the reclusive country’s perceived lag in technological advances as a result both of its self-isolation and from years of sanctions imposed to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

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