By Dain Oh, The Readable
Nov. 3, 2023 8:23PM GMT+9
“Weekend Briefing” is a weekly newsletter sent to subscribers of The Readable every Friday. Our journalists select important news items from the previous week on topics ranging from privacy to policy development in cybersecurity, all to help you stay abreast of the latest breaking issues. And not only is this provided free of cost to our subscribers, but the briefing contains new content exclusive to subscribers, such as our insightful industrial reports.
Hello! This is Dain Oh reporting from South Korea. A verdict by the Constitutional Court of Korea was announced on October 26 that upheld the country’s decision on methods for blocking websites, which are referred to as “server name indication (SNI)” based filtering. SNI-based filtering is controversial because it touches on issues of government censorship and civil liberties. However, for now, the controversy appears to have subsided, which you will learn more details about in this briefing.
Election security is once again back in the spotlight following the annual audit of state affairs, which occurred this week in the office of the National Intelligence Service (NIS). From it we learned that the NIS left 84 security inspection tools at the National Election Commission after their security investigation, a fact that was the source of much dispute among politicians. Where the opposition party called the software a “hacking tool,” the ruling party dismissed this claim, reassuring the public that the software is, in fact, merely what it appears to be—an inspection tool. A news article on this topic follows.
Finally, a drone hacking competition will be held in Seoul next month. You can learn more about the event at the end of this briefing. Enjoy the stories, and we wish you a wonderful weekend!
1. South Korean constitutional court upholds website blocking efforts via SNI
The Constitutional Court of South Korea announced on Thursday that they dismissed a request for a judgement that asked nine internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to 895 websites with server name indication (SNI). The decision came by unanimous consent, concluding three-and-a-half years of controversy over censorship.
According to a statement released by the constitutional court on October 26, the bench dismissed a petition from two internet users to review the government’s decision to implement SNI-based filtering across the Internet in Korea, specifically whether this action violates fundamental constitutional guarantees protecting the rights of Korean citizens to freedom of expression and freedom of information. READ MORE
2. South Korea’s election systems in turmoil after spy agency raised security concerns
Controversy over election security in South Korea is intensifying, with only six months remaining until the next general election. As more facts about a security investigation of election systems emerge from a government audit undertaken by the National Assembly, the power struggle between South Korea’s electoral regulator and the national security watchdog continues to escalate.
The conflict between the two authorities is sowing seeds of doubt about the reliability of the election system among voters, raising questions even over the intelligence agency’s possible motives for raising such hot-button issues so close to voting day. READ MORE
3. South Korea’s ruling party calls for international cooperation against North Korean cyber threat
The spokesperson of South Korea’s ruling party called for the government to form deeper ties with the international community to help address the threat of cyberattacks out of North Korea.
Jung Kwang-jae, a representative of the People Power Party, expressed his concerns over recent escalation in illegal cyber activities originating from or facilitated by North Korea. In a public statement released on October 28, Jung pointed out that the increasing frequency and complexity of the attacks coming out of the North is likely motivated by their need for more information and financial resources. READ MORE
4. AI voice analysis leads to capture of more than 50 phone scammers
South Korean police arrested 51 individuals for their involvement in telephone fraud after receiving assistance from an artificial intelligence model specifically designed to combat phone scams, according to the Ministry of the Interior and Safety on Tuesday.
In a press release, the Interior Ministry stated that the police have captured members of three different phone scamming criminal organizations accused of extorting approximately 600 million won ($450,000) from victims. According to the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police, although the criminals did not possess sexual images of victims, which they claimed to, they threatened and blackmailed their targets by stating they would share them online unless a sum of money was paid by a certain time in order to stop it. READ MORE
5. South Korea’s aerospace researchers face data leak investigation
South Korea’s science ministry is investigating a group of experts at the national aerospace research institution over leaked industrial technologies.
According to the Ministry of Science and ICT on Tuesday, the ministry’s audit and inspection division is currently investigating a possible data leak out of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). The MSIT did not disclose details of the investigation, such as the exact number of individuals currently under surveillance or the type or amount of data believed to have been mishandled. However, the government stated that the ministry has filed a petition with federal prosecutors in order that they might further investigate four researchers of particular interest in the possible breach. READ MORE
6. [Events] Hack the DRONE Festival 2023
The Korea Drone Security Association (KDSA) will host a drone hacking competition on December 1 at Kyung Hee University, Seoul. To encourage preparedness in the race to defend drone systems against attacks from malicious actors, the KDSA will host its “Hack the DRONE Festival” this year. The competition will give security experts the opportunity to prove their skills in identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities specific to the hacking of drones.
The preliminary round of the competition will run from November 1 through November 17, during which time participants will be challenged to complete a series of missions with the objective of reversing and analyzing drone systems. Participants will be awarded points for this task not solely on completing the missions, however. They must also detail the steps that led them to their results in a written report, with the most detailed reports receiving the highest scores. READ MORE
The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang. This article was copyedited by Arthur Gregory Willers.
Dain Oh is a distinguished journalist based in South Korea, recognized for her exceptional contributions to the field. As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Readable, she has demonstrated her expertise in leading media outlets to success. Prior to establishing The Readable, Dain was a journalist for The Electronic Times, a prestigious IT newspaper in Korea. During her tenure, she extensively covered the cybersecurity industry, delivering groundbreaking reports. Her work included exclusive stories, such as the revelation of incident response information sharing by the National Intelligence Service. These accomplishments led to her receiving the Journalist of the Year Award in 2021 by the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology, a well-deserved accolade bestowed upon her through a unanimous decision. Dain has been invited to speak at several global conferences, including the APEC Women in STEM Principles and Actions, which was funded by the U.S. State Department. Additionally, she is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, further exhibiting her commitment to journalism.