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S. Korea ups cyber threat warning as attacks increase

All News 14:15 August 04, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ICT ministry said Wednesday it raised the country's cyber threat warning level by one notch higher from the lowest level to respond to growing cyberattacks and threats related to the country's COVID-19 relief funds.

The government has a five-tier cybersecurity alert system, which is set at the second-lowest level as of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.

Under the higher alert level, the Korea Internet & Security Agency will expand monitoring of malware and other cyberthreats as well as strengthen response measures with related institutes.

The ICT ministry said that it decided to elevate the warning level in a move to preemptively respond to growing cyber threats, such as ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malware that holds a target's data hostage or locks up its systems until a ransom is paid.

There have been 78 ransomware attacks reported to the country's internet security agency in the first half of the year, compared with 22 in 2018, 39 in 2019 and 127 cases in total last year.

The government also expects phishing attacks to increase with the scheduled provision of pandemic relief funds,

The National Assembly endorsed a 34.9 trillion won (US$30.3 billion) extra budget last month in a bid to finance another round of relief packages to small merchants and people in the bottom 88 percent income bracket hit hard by the pandemic.

In this file photo, taken June 15, 2021, police officials demonstrate the encryption and decoding process of a ransomware at the offices of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in central Seoul on June 15, 2021. (Yonhap)


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