Financial authorities on high alert against cyberthreats

South Korea's top financial regulator on Monday stressed the importance of beefing up the security of the nation's finance-related cyber networks amid speculation that North Korea may launch cyberattacks on the South's key state agencies.

Yim Jong-yong, chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), made the point during a visit to the Financial Security Institute in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, which is the de facto control tower of the country's financial cybersecurity.

Yim's on-site inspection of the facilities came amid growing concern about the possibility that North Korea may attempt to exploit the South's political unrest.

Last Friday, the National Assembly voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye, suspending her authority and power. It is expected to take at least a few months for the Constitutional Court to make its ruling on whether to uphold the parliament's decision or reinstate Park. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn is serving as acting president.

"As Prime Minister Hwang stated several times, what's most important and urgent for now is national cybersecurity," Yim said, describing the current situation as tantamount to "a state of emergency."

The government should handle risk factors involving the financial market in a "more thorough and pre-emptive" manner, Yim added.

He cited increased threats from North Korea as demonstrated in its recent hacking of the South Korean military's cyber command.

The North was also accused of having hacked into the cyber networks of some banks here in 2013.

In 2014, the massive volume of South Korean credit card firms' customer information was leaked.

Earlier this year, the central banks of Russia and Bangladesh came under cyberattacks, with a huge amount of money stolen.

"Cyberthreats are evolving in various forms day and day," Yim said.

He added cybersecurity is necessary to maintain the financial system with stability.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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