If there is something that stands out from my +17 years in the security field, it is the bright people I’ve met from all over the globe, that protect users from cyber-attacks that threaten us every day. In this new section, I am going to interview people from different parts of the world, who will tell us about their experiences and perspectives.
For my first interview, I’d like to present you to Paul Chung. Paul is from South Korea and his Korean name is 정택준. He works at AhnLab.
1.- How did you get involved in security?
Actually, I was trying to get out of the computer science field when I was at school. I was confused at the time and I decided to join the Navy for a change. I was assigned CERT in Central Computing Center, where I managed network and security systems. I’ve been fascinated with security since then.
2.- Tell us a bit about your career at AhnLab.
When I was in the Navy, I learned about the network threats. But I was always curious about the file based threats. That is why I joined ASEC (AhnLab Security Emergency Response Center) in AhnLab. I’ve worked as a malware researcher for eight years and now I’m working on preparing our company for the future. I am learning about new technologies which we could adopt and what kind of new infrastructure we need.
3.- South Korea is the country with the highest Internet speed in the world, and among other things it is known for its gamer community. Do you have specific threats targeting gamers in your country?
Korea has a multi-billion dollar game industry, which is fifth in the world, and over 80% of them are online games. Because of the geological location and ‘Korean Wave’ in Asia, a lot of Korean games are distributed to nearby countries. I think that this is tempting for attackers. Not only to target Korean gamers, but everyone has who played that particular game. That is why we see a lot of online game hacks related malwares. Most of the malwares tries to steal the gamer’s credentials and some of the ransomware encrypts game related files and demands money to decrypt it.
4.- South Korea is also the country in the world with the highest smartphone ownership. Are there cyber-crime gangs specifically targeting South Korean smartphone users, or do you get the same kind of threats as the rest of the world?
According to one of the researchers (Pew Research Center) in 2015, 88% of Korea’s population owns a smartphone. From my point of view, android-specific ransomware and mobile banking Trojans are issued around the world. In Korea, Smishing (SMS phishing) attacks are very popular and mobile banking Trojans are on the rise.
5.- As a highly developed and technological country, South Korea has already suffered cyberattacks coming from other nations. Some countries have been already created commands that focus on cyber-defense of critical assets for the country, such as the United States Cyber Command. Are there similar initiatives in South Korea?
We do have an Armed Forces Cyber Command which is subordinate to the Ministry of Defense. Also, we have a National Cyber Security Center which is run by National Intelligence Service. Both of them grown large to defend cyber-attacks from the Strategy Cyber Command which is made by Kim Jung-un from the North.
But when it comes to security, one or two organization is not enough. As a security company we also work with our government to defend such an attack.
6.- Currently, what is the most desirable sector for cyber-delinquents? How do you think security in this sector has evolved?
I think what they are most interested in is money. So a lot of malware you see these days are related to ransomware or online banking. I think they are also interested in SCADA and ICS systems. We will see more of these attacks too.
A lot of industries are preparing for the attacks which we have seen already. But there are more to come. I think we need to cooperate with each other more than ever. Not just security companies but also with the government and other related industries. There is a lot of data out there, which we are missing. If we could gather meaningful data and share it, I think we will have a good chance to secure the net.
7.- What do you foresee in the next 5 years? What threats will we have to face? How is the security industry going to be like in the next decade?
This is a hard question for me. Because, who knows what will happen in the future? Though, I might have few things to forecast.
I think we will see more threats on IoT devices and Connected Cars. IoT devices are very vulnerable when it comes to security, like everybody knows. Also, cars are evolving fast. From the Gartner report, in 2020, 250 million cars will be connected to the network. And from BI Intelligence, the market will grow into a 123 billion dollar industry by that time.
As the environment changes, threats will change too. As a security company, we need to carefully look at where the changes are being made and research how we could defend it. But it won’t be done by one man or a company, we all need to work together to figure it out.
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