The Korea Herald


‘NIS meddling in politics with claims of election hacking’: Democratic Party of Korea

By Kim Arin

Published : Oct. 26, 2023 - 18:16

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National Election Commission (NEC) National Election Commission (NEC)

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on Thursday downplayed the National Intelligence Service findings that the country’s election infrastructure is vulnerable to cyberattacks, claiming that the spy agency was trying to get involved in politics.

The Democratic Party linked the accusations of cybersecurity vulnerabilities by the NIS with the Yoon Suk Yeol administration’s “attack on democracy.” The party also alleged that the spy agency was seeking access to the election service’s systems for political purposes.

Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo, the Democratic Party’s floor leader, said that the Yoon administration was “deliberately campaigning to taint the public’s view” of the election service to weaken its authority with the general election just six months away.

Hong and his party see the concerns of cyberattacks being raised as the NIS’ attempt to “meddle in politics” and “collect domestic intelligence” -- a function that was taken away from the spy agency as a part of the preceding Moon Jae-in administration’s intelligence reform.

“It’s hard not to wonder what the true intentions behind the NIS announcement might be,” he said. “I’d like to remind the NIS that it should serve the people, and not the administration.”

The People Power Party said in response that the Democratic Party or any political party “should have no reason to object to” the cybersecurity issues being addressed ahead of the general election.

“This cybersecurity evaluation showed that the National Election Commission was defenseless against cyberattacks, including those by hostile countries such as North Korea,” the ruling party’s lawmakers on the Assembly interior committee, which oversees the election service, said in a joint statement. “The Assembly has to concentrate its focus on building a system that will allow the South Korean people to vote with confidence.”

The ruling party lawmakers dismissed the Democratic Party claims that the NIS carried out the security evaluation with “ulterior motives.” “The election service itself has already agreed to additional security fortifications,” they said.

The NIS, jointly with the Korea Internet and Security Agency, conducted a security evaluation on the election service for 12 weeks after its email servers were known to have been perpetrated by North Korean hackers.

Over the evaluation, the NIS found that the election service systems were unable to fend off mock cyberattacks and that there had been successful breaches by North Korea in the past two years.