Gov’t pushing to elevate cyber warfare into military operations

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SEOUL, Nov 24 – The government has been pushing to categorize cyberspace operations as de facto military ones under the control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) commander as part of efforts to boost capabilities to counter growing security threats online, defense ministry officials said Monday.

Currently, the cyber command of countering security threats in cyberspace including hacking attempts mostly by North Korea is under the Ministry of National Defense, with its activities being regarded more as administrative measures rather than military operations.

“The government has been pushing to revise the Military Cyber Command Decree to let the JCS chief control cyber warfare and other actions in case they are deemed necessary to do so for traditional military operations,” a defense ministry official said. He declined to be identified.

“As cyber operations cannot be separated from physical military operations on land, at sea and in air, the JCS commander should have the right to arrange and control the cyber activities,” another ministry officer said.

The revision allows the JCS to conduct the full spectrum of military cyberspace operations in order to enable action in all domains, he noted.

The government plans to pre-announce the revision until next month to pave the way for the revision to take effect, according to the officials.

The revision is in line with South Korea’s recent moves to be proactive in cyber activities in the wake of growing threats.

The cyber command has recently decided to drop its long-held defensive tactics in cyber warfare and instead initiate proactive operations to better guard against enemies’ online infiltrations. For the first nine months of this year, the country has seen an increasing number of cyber attacks: 1,202 hacking attempts, up 595 cases from a year earlier.