The Steven Leach Group proposed a sensuous space to stimulate the creative ideas and tap the infinite imagination of its employees. Upon entering the lobby the “AhnLab Steps” welcomes the visitors, an element suggestive of the famous Spanish Steps in Rome. Here people can gather round to chat, or can even hold lectures and seminars. There are currently no open jobs at Ahnlab listed on Glassdoor. Sign up to get notified as soon as new Ahnlab jobs are posted.
AhnLab suffered many challenges even before the establishment, but now proudly celebrates its 10 year anniversary. A company has a 5-year survival rate of 10% so the 10-year survival rate is merely 1%. Considering that the survival rate of a venture company is less than one-tenth of that of a general company, AhnLab has withstood the probability of less than 0.1%. I believe that the key to the survival and the development of AhnLab was due to not only the efforts of all of us, but also the help of others who were with us through the good and bad. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all of you.
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When I started thinking about my own business ten years ago, I thought a lot about the meaning of a business. Being a doctor and a programmer back then, I was comfortable in my own profession but was completely oblivious to the world of business and management. So, understanding the definition of a business was important to me as I am a person who works for a reason, a value that my heart calls for. The most basic function of a company is to be a location where involved members spend time and discover themselves. But this alone is not much different from being a freelancer. After arranging my thoughts, I came to a personal conclusion that the true meaning of working in a company or an organization is the ability to do valuable work together that cannot be accomplished individually.
However, I also questioned the universally acknowledged notion that the purpose of a company is to generate profit. But if we apply the backward reasoning, in order for a company to generate profit, it needs to create a product or service whose value can be recognized by its customers, and then sell it. Then, the key goal lies in the accomplishing a result, not profit. We witness problems in our society that arise from companies with the sole goal to generate profit regardless of the means. And perhaps the conflicts of human history are caused by the confusion of what should be the purpose and what should be the result. This is why I believe in the idea that a company’s profit is harvests from the results –in line with the wisdom to stay true and keep persistent for the result to follow.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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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