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Military raises cyber alert after N.K. leader's death

All Headlines 10:10 December 20, 2011

SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- The military has raised the level of its cyber warfare readiness system by a notch in the aftermath of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the defense ministry said Tuesday.

In a report submitted to the National Assembly, the ministry said the South's information operations condition, or Infocon, was raised from Level 5 to Level 4 on Monday, after the North announced Kim's death.

The parliament's standing committee on national defense reviewed the report.

In the five-stage Infocon, Level 5 is in place during peacetime, and Level 4 indicates an increased risk of cyber attack. Only the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff can raise Infocon.

Under the heightened cyber alert, the military doubled the size of its staff handling network security and strengthened its coordination with the government's National Cyber Security Center, the ministry said.

In addition, Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT) at Army, Navy, Air Force and the Defense Security Command, the nation's top counterintelligence unit, have also bolstered their around-the-clock monitoring activities.

"We've strengthened our defense in cyberspace," a military official said. "If we detect any unusual symptoms, we're prepared to respond quickly."

If Infocon is raised, headquarters and operational commands of all branches of the service must immediately report any encroachments to their information systems and take countermeasures as necessary.

It was last moved up in March this year, after some 40 South Korean Web sites were attacked by a malicious computer virus.

On Monday, South Korea placed its forces on emergency alert but didn't immediately raise either Watchcon, its anti-North Korea surveillance alert, or Defcon, the combat alert. Officials and experts have said chances of an armed provocation by North Korea appear low in the immediate aftermath of Kim Jong-il's death.


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