South Korea joins NATO for cyber defense. First in Asia

South Korea joins NATO for cyber defense. First in Asia
The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) held a flag-raising ceremony to welcome new members in Tallinn, Estonia on May 5, 2022. Source: The NATO CCDCOE

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable

May 6, 2022 10:41 PM KST Updated May 10, 2022 8:40PM

South Korea became the first country in Asia to join the highly renowned NATO cyber defense group, South Korea’s intelligence agency stated Thursday.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in the statement that it had been formally admitted into the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE). Alongside South Korea, Canada and Luxemburg were also admitted as contributing participants.

Based in Tallinn, Estonia, the CCDCOE was established in 2008 in response to a Russian cyberattack which paralyzed Estonia’s network system. With its unique role, the CCDCOE has gradually become a cyber defense hub of interdisciplinary expertise in the field of cybersecurity with thirty-two members including twenty-seven NATO states.

Design: Areum Hwang, Sawol

South Korea has endeavored to become a member of the CCDCOE since 2019 in order to improve its global cyber threat response capabilities and secure its essential infrastructure. Last year, South Korea’s intelligence agency participated in the largest annual international cyber defense exercise, Locked Shields, organized by the CCDCOE. In 2018, South Korea’s National Security Research Institute (NSR) participated in Locked Shields as a green team, responsible for maintaining the network infrastructure. This was the first time an Asian country played this role in the exercise.

Kim Sun-hee, the third deputy director of the National Intelligence Service, is delivering an address at the flag-raising ceremony for the new members of CCDCOE. Source: CCDCOE

“Cyber threats are critical not only to individuals but also to independent nations, and at the supernational level it shows why international cooperation is essential”, the NIS said. “We plan to reinforce our defensive measures in cybersecurity at the international level by increasing the number of staff sent to the CCDCOE and extending the range of joint training.”

On the same day, the CCDCOE held a flag-raising ceremony at its headquarters to welcome the most recent members. Colonel Jaak Tarien, the Director of the CCDCOE, stated on the CCDCOE’s official website that “in the long run, the conditions for peace in cyber realm and a response to the security threats to the modern world cannot be created without united and committed support.”

Kuksung Nam is a cybersecurity journalist for The Readable. She covers cybersecurity issues in South Korea, including the public and private sectors. Prior to joining The Readable, she worked as a political reporter for one of the top-five local newspapers in South Korea, The Kyeongin Ilbo, where she reported several exclusive stories regarding the misconduct of local government officials. She is currently focused on issues related to anti-fraud, as well as threats and crimes in cyberspace. She is a Korean native who is fluent in English and French, and she is interested in delivering the news to a global audience.