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Digital crisis management body planned in wake of Kakao outage

Lee Jong-ho, minister of science and ICT, speaks during the meeting of a joint council between the ruling People Power Party and government on the issue of Kakao data center’s fire at the National Assembly on Oct. 19. (Yonhap)
Lee Jong-ho, minister of science and ICT, speaks during the meeting of a joint council between the ruling People Power Party and government on the issue of Kakao data center’s fire at the National Assembly on Oct. 19. (Yonhap)
The South Korean government will set up a digital crisis management headquarters to launch an all-year-round system that inspects and supervises the country’s digital infrastructure and services, the Ministry of Science and ICT said Friday.

The government’s plan came in the wake of Kakao’s server outage caused by a fire at SK C&C’s data center building, which led to a breakdown of the country’s most popular messaging app KakaoTalk for over 10 hours on Oct. 15. Major internet firm Naver’s shopping and blogging services were also affected for a few hours by the fire that day.

Through a permanent body, the government will continuously check on preventive measures against disasters, conduct training, respond to contingencies and carry out the restoring processes. The government did not disclose further details about the new digital crisis management headquarters.

The ministry said it will inspect the fire code and electrical safety measures at data centers and telecommunications network operators across the country in cooperation with relevant government bodies including the National Fire Agency.

A team of experts will analyze why the fire broke out at SK C&C’s data center, come up with countermeasures and explore ways to bolster the protection of data centers, according to the ministry.

The ministry will also push for legal revisions to include data centers and digital services, which had been excluded from the government’s disaster response system, so they can be a part of the country’s safeguard plans and joint exercises.

In the long term, the ministry will strategically develop and implement technologies -- such as solid-state batteries that are less prone to fire and satellite-based internet that can be used in case of a ground server shutdown -- to improve the stability and safety of digital services.

The ministry explained that the government’s outlined countermeasures will only be applied to larger digital service operators to ease the burden on startups and small-to-medium-sized enterprises.

These are among a set of plans reported to the presidential office by the government.

According to the ministry, SK C&C’s data center electricity backup process has been completed with a 100 percent power supply rate. Most Kakao and Naver services have been restored to normal, but the two IT companies said their digital services may undergo temporary errors for the time being.

“As (online communication services) now play an essential role in the public’s daily infrastructure, we need to be thoroughly prepared to offer stable services in any crisis situation,” said Park Yun-kyu, second vice minister of science and ICT.

“The Ministry of Science and ICT will do its utmost to draft technological and systematic improvements to prevent similar cases by closely examining the problems with experts,” Park added.



By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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