Cybersecurity News that Matters

Cybersecurity News that Matters

South Korean police faced over 20,000 hacking attempts in past five years

Illustration by Areum Hwang, The Readable

by Kuksung Nam

Jul. 08, 2024
9:17 PM GMT+9

South Korea’s police agencies have been a continual target of malicious actors, facing more than 20,000 hacking attempts in the past five years.

In a press release on Sunday, South Korean lawmaker Yang Bu-nam disclosed that the national police agency and its affiliated organizations experienced 20,008 hacking attempts from 2019 to 2023. The lawmaker noted that more than 1,600 attempts were made against law enforcement agencies from January to May this year, bringing the total to 21,645 cases.

Based on documents submitted by the Korean National Police Agency, Yang stated that attackers focused on extorting massive amounts of personal information stored in the police agency’s databases. This type of attack accounted for around 40% of all hacking attempts detected in the past five years. Notably, the number of hacking attempts aimed at harvesting information about targeted networks and systems has increased since 2022, nearing 40% of the total attempts discovered this year.

Alongside data extortion, the attackers carried out diverse hacking attempts including vulnerability exploitation, unauthorized access, and web defacement. Web defacement is a type of cyberattack where attackers infiltrate a website to defame the target, spread disinformation, or steal users’ personal information. The attacks originated from the United States, China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan, based on the final IP addresses of the attempts.

Although the number of hacking attempts has decreased yearly from 5,022 in 2019 to 3,210 in 2023, Yang stressed the need to expand the police agency’s budget for defending its systems and information against malicious activities. The lawmaker noted that the budget increased to 1.7 billion won ($1.3 million) in 2022 but decreased to 1.4 billion won ($1 million) last year. “It is evident that attackers frequently target the police agency to extort information or gain unauthorized access to its systems. Additional measures are necessary to protect against severe damage,” asserted Yang.

The Future Policing Policy Bureau at the Korean National Police Agency explained in an email statement to The Readable that the external hacking attempts did not result in successful breaches. The South Korean police added that they are continuing their efforts to secure the necessary budget to protect their network and data.

Related article: Hacking attempts against South Korean government record 560K

Illustration by Areum Hwang, The Readable

While the official YouTube channel of the South Korean government was hacked early this month, a statistic was released to the public, showing that more than half a million hacking attempts were carried out against South Korean government agencies over the past six years.

According to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, the South Korean government has received 558,674 hacking attempts from January 2017 to July of this year. This number includes 66,475 hacking attempts which occurred during the first seven months of this year.

In 2017, a total of 62,532 hacking attempts were detected. The volume of threats jumped in 2018 and 2019, which recorded 94,980 and 124,754 respectively. In 2020 and 2021, the volume remained above 100,000 for both years, which showed 108,810 and 101,123 individually. Throughout the entire period, attempts to steal information from the government was the number one goal among the various reasons for hacking, recording 228,950 (41%) attempts. READ MORE


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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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