August 23, 2021

Washington and Seoul Seek to Diversify the South Korea-US Alliance Through Cyber

By Jason Bartlett

While addressing the North Korean nuclear threat will remain a major focus of the South Korea-U.S. alliance, the addition of cybersecurity-specific language in the 2021 Biden-Moon summit suggests new collaborative measures between Washington and Seoul to diversify the alliance beyond its traditional role of deterring a second Korean War. Notably, the White House fact sheet outlining key commitments of the summit mentioned the word “cyber” a total of nine times and “nuclear” only five. But what exactly would enhancing joint cybersecurity efforts look like?

The Biden-Moon summit signaled that Pyongyang will not continue to dominate all political aspects of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

Any collaboration on cybersecurity will definitely involve mitigating the North Korean cyber threat, as Pyongyang seeks to evade U.S. economic sanctions through cyber-enabled financial crime such as distributing ransomware and hacking cryptocurrency exchanges. However, the Biden-Moon summit signaled that Pyongyang will not continue to dominate all political aspects of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

For example, the fact sheet described establishing a Cyber-Exploitation Working Group dedicated to “ending the abuse of women online and offline” in the United States and South Korea. This builds upon preexisting efforts to expand joint cybersecurity initiatives beyond responding to North Korean cyberattacks to combat the financing of online sexual exploitation.

Read the full article from The Diplomat.

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