South Korean intelligence agency embraces academics to bolster cyber defense

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Aug. 28, 2023 9:10PM GMT+9

The South Korean intelligence agency is actively partnering with academia to bolster the country’s defenses against ever-evolving cyber threats.

In a Monday press release, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) announced the designation of the Korean Association of Cybersecurity Studies (KACS) as its inaugural specialized institution for cybersecurity. According to the country’s presidential decree, the NIS director has the authority to appoint a research organization to serve as a specialized institution, tasked with developing essential policies, strategies, and technologies for cybersecurity operations.

“We expect this initiative will foster more active dialogue between the NIS and academic circles,” the intelligence agency noted in their statement. “We are particularly looking forward to strengthened efforts in conducting timely research related to urgent cybersecurity issues of national significance.”

Established just last May, the KACS boasts a membership of around 150 dedicated cybersecurity experts, spanning fields such as international strategy, law, and technology. Over the past three months, this budding institution has delved into subjects like the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the interplay between the United States and Japan, exploring the implications for cooperation between South Korea and Japan.

“Cybersecurity has escalated into a major topic in international politics, regularly featuring on the agendas of national leaders. As a result, there’s a growing need to address the issue comprehensively, encompassing diplomacy, military concerns, and emerging security challenges,” explained Kim Sang-bae, the president of the KACS and a professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Seoul National University, in a statement to The Readable.

According to the KACS president, the association is set to host a national strategy forum this week, centering on cybersecurity in relation to the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which is made up of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. “In the second half of this year, our focus will shift to China’s cyber threats and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine,” the president added.

The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.

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 privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.