Cybersecurity News that Matters

Cybersecurity News that Matters

Experts warn of rise of digital partnerships among authoritarian regimes

by Kuksung Nam

Oct. 25, 2023
2:05 PM GMT+9

As the cyber domain emerges as the next frontier of cooperation among like-minded countries, South Korean experts raised concerns about the possible digital partnership between authoritarian governments including Russia, China, and North Korea.

On Wednesday, Doo Jin-ho, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), highlighted the strategic partnership between Russia and China in cyberspace during the fifth National Strategy Forum held by the Korean Association of Cybersecurity Studies (KACS). “For China and Russia, the spread of democratic values is a critical threat to their regimes,” said the expert on Russia’s military and foreign strategies. “To establish a firm ground of their governance, the two countries could seek to expand their strategic cooperation in cybersecurity.”

Doo Jin-ho, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), is speaking at the fifth National Strategy Forum held by the Korean Association of Cybersecurity Studies (KACS) on October 25. Photo by Kuksung Nam

Doo explained that this could lead to a possible appearance of a digital bloc among authoritarian countries including North Korea, Iran, and Syria, who also fear the free flow of information and opinion, the key pillars of democratic values. According to Doo, a digital bloc of this kind is likely to pose an immense threat to the world’s free nations, as it means that bad actors will be collaborating against their targets in a more coordinated manner than ever before. It could particularly cause an irreversible impact when the cyber operations are focused on meddling with election campaigns similiter to Russia’s alleged interference in the United States presidential election in 2016.

Yun Min-woo, professor of the Department of Police Science and Security Studies at Gachon University, added that there is room for cooperation between China and Russia as they agree on essential values in cyberspace, with both nations understanding it as a domain that each has its own power to control. Yun mentioned how China conducted influence operations against European countries and how Russian social media operators amplified their message to other users through their channels. “There are also indications that North Korean hackers are allegedly using Russia’s internet network,” said Yun. “These are some examples of the cooperation that we should pay attention to.”

Moreover, Shin Beom-shik, professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Seoul National University, stressed the importance of comprehending that the word “cooperation” could carry a different meaning with authoritarian regimes than it does with democratic nations. “It is not the same as the cooperation between Ukraine and the Western countries,” noted Shin. “One has to appreciate that words can bear a variety of meanings and express a range of implications if one hopes to begin to grasp current developments in this era of increasing so-called cooperation.”


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  • Kuksung Nam
    : Author

    Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and...

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