Last month, Korea University obtained a permission to establish the Department of Cyber Security. This department will receive thirty students a year, offering a full-time scholarship. The graduates will serve in the army as officers but military training or uniforms are not required. It is already attracting huge attention from high school students who dream to be hackers.
This department is also drawing attention from other countries. Professor Im Jong-in had an interview with the Washington Post. Korea suggested a new model for fostering cyber warriors. Traditionally, Korea set up educational institutes based on American models, but this time, Korea University is playing a leading role.
Korea's cyber security program offers various benefits to recruit outstanding students. First, students can serve in Cyber Space Command as an officer while fulfilling their mandatory military service. Secondly, instead of struggling in the job market, students can serve for up to seven years as an officer. The government will financially support students to get a higher degree or even to study overseas. However, seven years is more than twice the normal mandatory military service duration. After discharged, jobs will be open at major government agencies such as National Intelligence Service. Third, students in the program will receive a full-time scholarship and will have chances to get internships.
It is important to coordinate a balanced curriculum. The curriculum has to cover everything students need to know from law to technology. It is also important to teach how cyber attacks differ from defense and how to keep a balance between the two. Ethics and moral education is crucial to prevent any kind of accident students could cause from lack of awareness.
People often take cyber attacks negatively. But, there is such thing as a good attack. For example, when gathering information, we don't have to hack into a secret system when the same information can be obtained by searching and analyzing. Sometimes we waste time and effort to find what is already on the Internet. Therefore, learning about good attacks is important.
Unlike conventional warfare, one click could incapacitate the whole financial system in a cyber war. An evil hacker could destroy everything on the network such as an airports control system using a malicious code like Stuxnet.
Nowadays, national security requires defense at the global level. While drug smuggling, terrorism, destruction of the environment and financial crises are at least predictable, cyber attacks happen without any warning and could be destructive.
To successfully defend our country in a future cyber war, training experts and developing anticipative strategies are vital. Though launching the Department of Cyber Security is just a small step forward, it is meaningful that the Korean government show an active response to potential threats.