The South Korean army has signed an agreement with Korea University this week to establish a four-year undergraduate cyberwarfare program, according to a report in The Korea Herald.
The army’s chief of staff General Kim Sang-ki was in attendance at the university ceremony announcing the new program, noting ‘I am glad that we are now able to bring up the cyber warriors that we need in the military.’
The course is said to include instruction in ‘information technology, cryptography, psychology and cyber warfare tactics.’ It aims to develop specialists to assist in national defense online against a growing North Korean threat.
And while the establishment of such a program may sound a little alarming at first, when you consider what the sort of training that is reportedly taking place in the North, this suddenly makes a little more sense. According to Al Jazeera earlier this month, North Korea is taking it’s hacker training to an entirely different level. A North Korean defector Kim Heung-kwang explains:
There is a pyramid-like prodigy recruiting system, where smart kids from all over the country – students who are good at math, coding and possess top analytical skills… When they graduate, they are sent to attend North Korea’s top technology institutes and universities… [and then] students are sent to China or Russia for about one year to solidify their knowledge of hacking and and other technical skills. After the overseas training, they are placed in various warfare units to serve as “cyberwarriors.”
Add to all this the countless headlines in recent months from Lolsec and Anonymous, online spats between Pakistan and India, China and Vietnam — and suddenly the internet is a lot scarier than the cheeseburgers and narwhals that most of us are used to. Like the two Koreas, China is making preparations as well for its own cyber defense force, as we reported here recently.
I’m thinking that for safety’s sake I might just have to spend a little more time offline. Perhaps its time to dig my etch-a-sketch out of the attic…