South Korea reinspects election security prior to general election

By Hongeun Im, The Readable
Jan. 25, 2024 9:38PM GMT+9

The National Intelligence Service of South Korea (NIS) is conducting a security inspection of the National Election Commission (NEC) from January 23 to 31, fortifying national cybersecurity ahead of the general election scheduled for April.

The NIS is undertaking the inspection to ensure that the security measures and requirements instituted after last year’s investigation have been fully implemented, according to a representative of the NEC.

Last year, the NEC had its first security inspection, which occurred over three month’s time. As a result of the inspection, conducted by the NIS and the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA), a number of security vulnerabilities were discovered in the voting system. After the NIS revealed that the NEC system was vulnerable to ballot rigging and hacking, the NEC announced plans to improve its security posture.

“We have implemented urgent security protocols, including security patches, changing vulnerable passwords, and making access to voter databases more restricted,” the NEC wrote in a press release. “We plan to enhance system access control, add security equipment, and create a ‘Security Consulting Results Implementation Task Force Team’ to check and inspect the status of follow-up measures.”

The Readable reached out to the NEC to check whether these measures were implemented. The spokesman of the NEC said that, while certain protocols have been implemented, others are still in progress. Details were not shared due to security reasons. “We plan on continuously improving security vulnerabilities,” added the spokesman.

The importance of election security is an issue that has come to the fore as problems with maintaining it have become more prevalent worldwide. The United Kingdom suffered from a data breach of its electoral commission last year. Similarly, it has been alleged that the campaign of French president Emmanuel Macron was the target of a massive hacking attack while he was running for office in 2017.

The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang. This article was edited by Dain Oh and copyedited by Arthur Gregory Willers.

Hongeun Im is a reporting intern for The Readable. Motivated by her aspirations in cybersecurity and aided by the language skills she honed while living in the United Kingdom, Im aims to write about security issues affecting the Korean Peninsula and lead more people to become interested in cybersecurity. She attends Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Her interest in computer science led her to participate in the World Friends Korea volunteer program, where she taught Python at the Digital Government Center in Laos and at Al-Balqa Applied University in Jordan.