by Bryan Morben, UMN Law Student, MJLST Staff
There has been a lot of attention on North Korea and the possibility of a nuclear war lately. In fact, as recently as April 4, 2013, news broke that the increasingly hostile country moved medium-range missiles to its east coastline. It is reported that the missiles do not have enough range to hit the U.S. mainland, but is well within range of the South Korean capital. Tensions have been running high for several months, especially when the North took the liberty to shred the sixty year old armistice that ended the Korean War, and warned the world that “the next step was an act of ‘merciless’ military retaliation against its enemies.”
But perhaps the use of physical force by leader Kim Jong Un is not the only, or even the most important threat, from North Korea that the United States and its allies should be worried about. Despite the popular impression that North Korea is technologically inept, the regime boasts a significant cyber arsenal. The country has jammed GPS signals and also reportedly conducted cyber terrorism operations against media and financial institutions in the South. North Korea employs a host of sophisticated computer hackers capable of producing anonymous attacks against a variety of targets including military, governmental, educational, and commercial institutions. This ability to vitiate identity is one of the most powerful and dangerous parts about cyber warfare that isn’t possible in the physical world.
Susan Brenner is an expert in the field cyberwar, cybercrime, and cyber terrorism. She has been writing about how and why the institutions modern nation-states rely on to fend off the threats of war, crime, and terrorism have become ineffective as threats have migrated into cyberspace for over half a decade. Her article, Cyber-threats and the Limits of Bureaucratic Control, in Issue 14.1 of the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology outlines why we need a new threat-control strategy and how such a strategy could be structured and implemented. A strategy like the one Brenner recommends could help protect us from losing a cyberbattle with North Korea that most people aren’t even aware could happen.