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North Korea's Cyber Warfare and Challenges for the U.S.-ROK Alliance

Despite an inferior information communication environment, North Korea has a high capacity to conduct robust cyber operations aimed at collecting foreign intelligence, disrupting foreign comput-ers, information and communication systems, networks and critical infrastructures, and stirring public discontent and disorder in the enemy states. The Korean People’s Army concentrated its efforts on strengthening the cyber war capabilities through establishing a command and control structure dedicated to cyber warfare, form-ing military units specializing in cyber warfare, training expert man-power, and advancing research and development of core cyber technologies. North Korea critically depends on outside resources for the conduct of its offensive cyber effects operations.

The U.S.-ROK alliance managers often find their response options limited in the absence of a clearly identifiable North Korean gov-ernment source of cyber operations. Washington and Seoul must strengthen their cooperation in cyberspace domain to deter North Korean cyber attacks and to promote the resilience of critical in-frastructure, including the security of information and computer systems. The allies are well advised to learn the key lessons and operational concepts of Israel’s Cyber Iron Dome. Seoul should be more discreet about its cyber offense plans because unwarranted publicity may undermine its cyber and military security and dam-age its moral and legal standings in the international community. The South should seek to expand cyber cooperation with China, in order to contain the North’s cyber threats. Once the inter-Korean military-to-military dialogue is resumed, Seoul should attempt to engage Pyongyang in a cyber arms control discussion.

Keywords: Cyber warfare, cyber warfare units, cyber bases, com-puter network operations, proxy wars

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