US, South Korea to team up on cyber technology

US, South Korea to team up on cyber technology
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The U.S. and South Korea have agreed to help one another develop technology to combat cyber threats, the two nations said on Monday.

The agreement, although not legally binding, states that the two countries will seek to make “best use of their respective best practices, eliminate unnecessary duplication of work, and obtain the most efficient and cost effective results through cooperative partnerships.”

Both South Korea and the U.S. have been in the digital crosshairs of Seoul’s neighbor to the north.

North Korea is widely believed to be behind the infamous hack on Sony Pictures, perceived as retaliation for “The Interview,” a 2014 comedy that depicted the assassination of leader Kim Jong Un.

And Seoul in March accused Pyongyang of trying to hack into government websites and smartphones amid rising tensions between the neighbors.

North Korea is also thought to be behind a series of attacks on South Korean banks and broadcasting companies in 2013, according to researchers.

The country is not considered a top global cyber power, but it has aggressively ramped up its digital arsenal in recent years. Pyongyang has increasingly tied cyber campaigns to its blustery rhetoric and military drills.

In January, shortly after Pyongyang officials claimed to have conducted a successful hydrogen bomb test, South Korea deployed more cyber defense agents in anticipation of a possible digital assault.

Several weeks later, Seoul said it believed North Korea had launched a spate of cyberattacks on southern targets. Reportedly the digital assaults planted malware on a number of government networks.

“The North is developing its cyber capabilities in tandem with its other asymmetric threats and has embedded these capabilities in party and military institutions,” Victor Cha, the Korea chairman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told lawmakers during an October hearing on Capitol Hill.

Monday’s agreement does not name any specific threat actor but cites “coordinated responses to new or emerging threats” and “joint activities aimed at enhancing operational readiness to support cybersecurity and resilience.”

It was signed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea.

Katie Bo Williams, The Hill